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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 3 Hansard (6 March) . . Page.. 630 ..

MR QUINLAN: Mr Speaker, I do not intend to go into detail at all. I just want to advise the house-and I thank Mr Hargreaves for the opportunity to do so-that some days ago, and only days ago, I received advice that there had been an apparent breach of security in the electronic communications to the office of a government minister. I have to say that sometimes it takes a little time for the gravity of such situations to register, and it did take a few minutes for the seriousness of this particular matter to sink in.

In the four years that I have been in this place I have come to appreciate that transgression against privilege that attaches to a parliament and its operations is the most serious of matters. I have been assured that the appropriate notifications have been made to you, Mr Speaker, to our IT provider agency and to the police. As you have advised the house, the police are investigating this matter and I have been assured that the investigation will be thorough.

As police minister, I apologise to members who may be inconvenienced in any way and who had no knowledge of this matter until today. However, I will insist upon the most thorough of investigations.

Representation of women in cabinet

MS DUNDAS: My question is for the Chief Minister. Chief Minister, as we have seen, Mike Rann, the Premier of South Australia, announced that there will be four women in his new cabinet, and they were sworn in today. What plans do you have to allow women into the cabinet here in the ACT?

MR STANHOPE: I thank Ms Dundas for her question. I assume, Ms Dundas, that was a job application?

MR SPEAKER: Do you have a supplementary question, Ms Dundas?

MS DUNDAS: I do have a supplementary question. I am shocked by the brevity of the Chief Minister's answer. Minister, do you find it concerning, notwithstanding the jokes, that you are the only male minister for women in Australia?

MR STANHOPE: Yes, Ms Dundas, it is incongruous. It is something that I regret, and it is something that I hope will be rectified at some stage, just as I sincerely hope that, at the next election, more than 50 per cent of this Assembly will be women. I think it is something that we are all concerned about, and something at which we are all working hard.

On behalf of my party, the Australian Labor Party, I have to say that this is an issue that we take particularly seriously. Our branch of the Labor Party, the ACT branch, is, I think, the first branch of the mainstream political parties to insist, through its rules, that at least 50 per cent of all public positions within the party be held over for women. Affirmative action will apply to ensure that at least 50 per cent of all public positions and all office holders are potentially available for women. That is something of which we are particularly proud.

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