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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 04 Hansard (Wednesday, 21 April 2021) . . Page.. 1007 ..


But worse than that—and this is an issue that came forward from many veterans who had listened to the speech—when Ms Cheyne got up to speak, she believed that Ms Davidson was a veteran. She said, “Ms Davidson speaks with power in her voice on this issue, on veteran suicide, because she is a veteran.” She has corrected the record, and I thank her for that. I thank her for correcting the record.

But Ms Davidson then speaking, following what Ms Cheyne had said, did not correct the record. She allowed that to stand. Veterans who were watching that debate were flabbergasted that Ms Cheyne had said, “She speaks with power in her voice because she is a minister and a veteran,” then Ms Davidson just let that rest. If I was speaking on an issue and one of my colleagues said, “Mr Hanson speaks with power in his voice because he was a doctor,” or “because he was a teacher”—and I was not, of course—I would immediately correct the record; and that is the form of this place. It is the form of this place to immediately make sure that those sorts of errors are corrected. I must say that I and veterans, when they heard that Ms Davidson had just let that rest and continued on with the motion, were disappointed.

So on three measures there have been things that have occurred that have led to an erosion certainly in the trust that I have but sadly in the trust that many veterans have in this government and particularly this minister’s commitment to veterans here in the ACT. I am disappointed. It seems that in some ways we are back to where we were in 2009 with a government, with a Chief Minister, that just did not even bother to have a veterans affairs minister until we had to demand it; with a minister who is trying to walk two sides of the street in terms of a party that wants to rip the guts out of defence, which would naturally expose service people to great risks, and someone who, I think, was very clumsy in speaking to the motion on veterans suicide, which was a sensitive issue that was not handled well.

I make those points. I will continue to fight for veterans as I always have. Sadly, my fight now, it would seem, will be with the government to make sure that they are actually doing the job that they should be doing rather than as it was, side by side with the government when the previous minister did what he did.

MADAM SPEAKER: Members, I draw your attention to standing order 52 where a member may not reflect adversely upon any vote of the Assembly except upon a motion that the vote be rescinded. You did skate somewhat close to that, Mr Hanson, but I let you continue. But I just bring it to your attention.

MRS KIKKERT (Ginninderra) (5.22): The last time we debated an appropriation bill I raised concerns about how the safer families levy is being spent. I addressed persistent failures within the territory’s child protection system and this government’s stubborn foot-dragging when it comes to reform. I also spoke about a lack of genuine consultation, and I concluded by expressing worry about how neglecting essential community services impacts the most vulnerable in our community. Two years later and nothing much has changed. A few fresh faces have joined the tired, old government on the opposite side of the chamber, but already their approaches look the same and their answers sound just as hollow.


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