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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 03 Hansard (Tuesday, 30 March 2021) . . Page.. 567 ..


It was extremely disappointing that, when the Minister for Women established and announced her women’s caucus, the women of the Canberra Liberals were excluded. The women in my party room form a majority, not for the first but for the second term in a row. The women in my party room are part of a party room that have elected a female leadership team, a first for ACT politics. The women in my party room come from diverse backgrounds and bring diverse life experiences. It is disappointing that the minister’s women’s caucus will not have a single member who can bring lived experiences of being a woman of colour in our community. Whilst this is the reality, I accept the minister’s words that, whilst the caucus is for Labor and Greens women MLAs only, she will also value and seek the views of the Canberra Liberals women MLAs. I am sure that this is a genuine goal.

I welcome the minister’s statement and the establishment of the sexual assault prevention and response working group, which will bring together the community, the service sector, unions and relevant stakeholders on responses to sexual assault in the ACT. More coordination among these stakeholders across the ACT is a good thing because the poison of endemic sexual harassment and assault is not an evil to be responded to in silos by separate government and community functions. I also thank the minister for her leadership and swift government response to what we know transcends politics, workplaces and different communities.

We at the ACT Legislative Assembly stand proud, as we have achieved a female majority parliament now two terms in a row. This in itself, of course, does not mean our parliament is protected from this scourge. In fact, it must work as a constant reminder that we can never be complacent in any workplace. Even as a small parliament, we have led the nation in so many ways and I am certain that we can do that now, today. I am reminded of an Aboriginal saying that I have heard a few times this International Women’s Day, the latest by Minister Tara Cheyne, and it is very apt for me to repeat it today. The saying goes, “Traveller, there are no paths. Paths are made by walking, and walk we will.”

Question resolved in the affirmative.

COVID-19 pandemic response—update

Ministerial statement

MS STEPHEN-SMITH (Kurrajong—Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Minister for Families and Community Services and Minister for Health) (11.05): On 12 March 2020, just over one year ago, the ACT recorded its first case of COVID-19. Four days later, on 16 March, I declared a public health emergency to ensure that the government was able to respond and protect our community from a pandemic that continues to infect almost half a million people a day around the world.

Today I rise to provide the second update of 2021 to the Legislative Assembly on the COVID-19 situation in the ACT and the plans, preparations and actions the government continues to take to protect the health and wellbeing of Canberrans. Since my last update on 9 February, the COVID-19 situation locally and nationally has


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