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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 03 Hansard (Wednesday, 21 March 2018) . . Page.. 806 ..

fact that this even needs to be said is ridiculous, but for the benefit of some of those in the chamber—namely, those opposite—for the state to deny any person the decision to have an abortion is condescending, it is denigrating and it is damaging. It is entirely unacceptable. There are a myriad reasons why a person may choose to terminate a pregnancy and it is never our place to judge. The government’s policy is clear: it is your body; it is your choice.

I want to take this moment to acknowledge my colleague Ms Le Couteur’s bill presented this morning to improve access to reproductive health services and also acknowledge the government’s review already underway. Both ACT Labor and the ACT Greens not only are committed to giving women a choice but are conscientiously monitoring and reviewing our current framework to identify improvements. In particular, we are committed to identifying and addressing barriers to accessing termination services in Canberra, including affordability, and my motion emphasises this strongly today.

Our approach, I sadly have to say yet again, stands in stark contrast to that taken by the opposition. Somehow—and in 2018 I continue to find this baffling—some of those opposite, including the opposition leader and spokesperson for health, openly stand against a woman’s right to choose. That position reeks of arrogance and narrow-mindedness—hardly the qualities of a leader. Of course, the position for women under a Liberal government still remains a total mystery. It is the epitome of cowardice: “I have an opinion that I know is not fair so I will just avoid answering the question.”

The question, of course, is and was as we put many, many months ago: “What is your policy on abortion, Canberra Liberals? The people of Canberra deserve to know.” It has now been 232 days since the Leader of the Opposition let us know that they have no policy on this critical issue. I suggest the Canberra Liberals need to make up their minds. If they want to send us back to the dark ages and restrict abortion, own up to it and let the people of Canberra judge you accordingly. If you would see reason and give each woman her own choice, if your policy position is that you believe in choice and it is up to each person to decide that choice, just commit to it. That should be your position, but the indecision continues to be a disgrace—232 days.

We have made a lot of progress, even just in my lifetime, towards gender equality. However, there is still work to do. These are not just women’s issues. We know for a fact that everyone benefits when there is true equality, so we are all being held back until we are recognised and respected as equals. And so today I am calling on everyone in this parliament to make personal and professional pledges to promote gender equality in their workplaces and in their personal lives. By simply articulating how they will support gender equality they are more likely to identify situations where inequality exists and assure the men and women around them that they are respected equally. Similarly, by calling out instances of gender inequality and gender-based harassment we are able to provide invaluable support for individuals who are being sidelined or harassed and send a clear message that inequality will not be tolerated.

I am proud of this government’s unwavering commitment to building a better, brighter future for all of us by supporting women and girls to reach their potential and

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