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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 12 Hansard (Thursday, 25 November 2021) . . Page.. 3727 ..


Women also traditionally undertake extensive amounts of unpaid work, with household work falling under a woman’s responsibility in many cases. Public transport is planned largely to accommodate the traditional nine-to-five work schedule—a schedule that we know men are more accustomed to. Whilst I am sure that many women would love to utilise active travel more, the reality is that many simply cannot.

This report, and therefore this motion, has placed responsibility on women to do the government’s work—to change their lives so that they are not blamed for the increasing congestion that will follow with the light rail upgrades. The simple fact is that men can contribute too; everyone can contribute. A lack of knowledge about how to fix a bike is an issue highlighted in the report. Bike repair is not something that only women can learn; men can too. It is true that some issues of safety, amongst other factors, are unique to women. However, such recommendations comprise a small part of the report. The majority are not gendered in nature and could easily be burdens shared by everyone. Further, if we want partners to contribute more to household tasks that preclude active and physical transport, like school drop-offs, it makes sense to include them in the recommendations.

Dr Paterson’s motion essentially is a 44-page-long manifesto about how public transport has failed, placing the responsibility for its solution on women. It is not our responsibility. If women are the indicator species of Canberra’s active and public transport ecosystems, then collect data on them. The ecosystem is not made of women only, and therefore its issues do not fall on women’s backs. In ecology, an indicator species’ troubles tell the tale of broader issues. In such cases you do not only assess and fix these issues; you assess and fix the issues of the whole ecosystem. This motion unfairly targets women. The increase in uptake of active and public transport is not only a woman’s issue, and it needs to be addressed by the whole, and for the whole, Canberra community.

On a personal note—these are my words; Giulia’s words—as Tara said earlier, I like to ride the bike to work when I can. And it is harder than driving. It should be a positive choice, not something that I have to do because of poor traffic planning under the light rail construction. Mine is a positive choice, and because of that I can enjoy it, as well as getting the health and fitness benefits, and benefiting the environment.

MS DAVIDSON (Murrumbidgee—Assistant Minister for Seniors, Veterans, Families and Community Services, Minister for Disability, Minister for Justice Health and Minister for Mental Health) (3.29): I would like to thank Dr Paterson for bringing forward a motion that enables us to apply a gendered lens to transport policy. I welcome her evidence-based approach to policy making. As well, I welcome Ms Clay’s ongoing commitment, personally and professionally, to making active travel easier for all of us. There has been some really good, constructive debate from most of the people in here today—unfortunately, not all.

This piece of work by Dr Paterson builds on some fantastic social research work that has been undertaken by the Women’s Centre for Health Matters in recent years, including the What Makes Public Spaces Safer for ACT Women report in 2019, which talked about footpaths, cycle paths and bus stops in Canberra. There were 363 reports that went into that piece of social research work. They also conducted a piece of work


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