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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001-2002 Week 1 Hansard (11 December) . . Page.. 39 ..

MS GALLAGHER (continuing):

given ACT Labor the opportunity to deliver on them. It is an honour to be a part of that government.

Mr Speaker, much has been made of the election of five new women to this Assembly. The 2001 ACT election result delivered a 200 per cent increase in the female representation. I am proud to be a part of an Assembly that is more representative of the community, although much more could be done here.

However, I am not just here because I am a woman. I am here because I wanted to represent my community and because I believe strongly in the right of every person to be represented, be it at the workplace, in the community or in this Assembly. I have been a student, a worker and a unionist. I am a woman and a parent and now I am a member of this Assembly and, as such, it is incumbent upon me to represent all the people of my electorate to the best of my ability. It is my sincere hope that at the end of this Assembly the people of Molonglo can say that they are proud to have had me as one of their representatives.

Mr Speaker, my employment background has been in the community sector and the labour movement. The 13 years I have spent working in these fields has given me first-hand experience and contact with those members of our community who are less fortunate than I and who rely on the advocacy skill of others to represent them and argue in their interests.

My years in the community sector and the labour movement have shown me that both these fields are alike in many ways. In recent times we have seen these groups coming together locally, nationally and internationally to resist regressive political agenda and to work together as a force for positive social change.

Australia has a long and impressive industrial relations history. Since the first convicts strike in 1791 to the more recent industrial battles, Australian families have relied on the organising efforts of Australian unions. Today, the Australian labour movement is representing millions of working people, be it through individual support or through broader campaigns run by the ACTU-campaigns for living wage increases, paid maternity leave, unpaid parental leave, reasonable hours cases, winning superannuation for all, securing employee entitlements when companies go broke; the list goes on. It would be difficult for any working person in this country, or their family, to argue that the work of the Australian labour movement has not in some way benefited them.

When we talk about the labour movement, we are actually talking about issues and ideas which touch every member of the community. That is because work, fair recognition and remuneration for that work are part of everyone's life. It is also because the labour movement is the community. A fair go for all is at the heart of every community and is championed in the everyday issues addressed and programs run by the labour movement. This involvement keeps us vibrant and gives us strength. It is also a source of our renewal-a renewal of ideas and a renewal of our purpose. To those who seek to undermine the community I come from and the unions it built, the challenge is for you to demonstrate how the labour movement lets down ordinary Australians. I think your task is far more difficult than mine.

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