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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 03 Hansard (Wednesday, 21 March 2018) . . Page.. 818 ..


who had migrated to Australia, speaking of their experience of finding their way in a new country. The groups came together to socialise, share experiences and have fun dancing.

Participation is such a critical act in our life, and it is through participation that we learn and that we teach. So many lives have been enriched by encouraging the increased participation of women in our society, and a day like International Women’s Day is a day to celebrate this and to reflect on how we can better achieve this.

MS CHEYNE (Ginninderra) (12.12), in reply: I thank the many members who spoke for their contributions today. I note that for a time Mr Hanson was the only male member here, and I felt the need to point that out. But I expect he coped with it and supported the excellent company around him.

Every person here today has spoken of the value of women and the gender equality imperative. Sadly, there is a disconnect between that goal and the policy position of the Canberra Liberals. At the heart of it, the availability of abortion and termination services is crucial to giving women a genuine chance to reach their potential. Denying this basic health service is tantamount to sentencing some Canberra women to social isolation, financial hardship and missed opportunities in education and the workplace.

It is getting tiring, but I need to stress to the Canberra Liberals yet again that a policy position of pro-choice is about choice. The Liberals stress how important it is that it is a conscience issue for them, but that is exactly what being pro-choice is—exercising your conscience, exercising your choice. There is no forcing of one thing or another. Being pro-choice simply does not force anyone to do anything. Having a pro-choice policy empowers women to make the choice that is right for them. That is their decision to make. It is up to them. It is not our position to judge or influence.

While ever the Canberra Liberals do not have a policy as a party, we can only assume that their policy will be decided by whomever might be their health minister, if that day ever comes—God forbid. I will put on the record that I never, ever want what should be my reproductive decisions to be decided by the personal views or the conscience of Mrs Dunne. I cannot overstate the importance of this issue. I will continue to call out the opposition on their lack of a clear policy and their circular arguments on women’s reproductive health until they show some conviction, an ounce of conviction, and let the people of Canberra, the women of Canberra, who they say they so well represent, know where the Canberra Liberals stand.

On a lighter note, I am proud to be part of a government that is standing up for women and girls in practical and meaningful ways. The ACT government has made significant improvements in women’s participation. Our female workforce participation rate, pay gap and representation of women in leadership positions far exceed the national average and we have the opportunity to be leaders on the world stage.

Last month the ACT reported the largest percentage of women holding positions on government boards and committees, with 48 per cent. This excellent result is a product of tangible measures taken by the ACT government mandating that all ACT boards and committees consult with the ACT office for women to ensure gender


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