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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 7 Hansard (5 June) . . Page.. 1911 ..

MS MacDONALD (continuing):

As a result of the discrimination she received, this lady suffered adverse health effects. I am pleased to say I was able to help and guide her through that situation. In the end, she had a healthy child, although she suffered gestational diabetes as a result of the stress.

This amendment is good, in that it raises the profile that discrimination against women, on the basis that they may become pregnant or are pregnant already, is wrong. That is the spirit of this. We are highlighting the fact that women provide a valuable resource to our work force, as well as a valuable resource to our community, through having children. I commend the amendment.

MRS CROSS (11.19), in reply: Mr Speaker, from now on, I will look adoringly at you when I speak-and only at you.

MR SPEAKER: I am impressed. You never fail to impress me!

MRS CROSS: Mr Speaker, thank you so much. You have sweetened what started off as a sour morning.

MR SPEAKER: We have got to stop this!

MRS CROSS: I thank members for their support of this bill. I am glad you are sitting there. That is all that I can say at this moment.

Mr Speaker, in arguing the merits of this bill over the past few weeks, I have thought often about how the fortunes of women have fluctuated over time. Most people these days believe we live in enlightened times and that Australia is one of the world's leaders, if not leading the world, in some respects, in the acceptance and tolerance of differences. We might even be tempted to think women in this country are doing pretty well, and that they enjoy true equality and opportunity.

That is not so. There have been times when women ruled the world-not just any women but even Greek women. For example, Cleopatra was a Greek woman who ruled the kingdom of Egypt. She was a member of the Ptolemy family. While there were notable queens in ancient times-Boadicea, Iceni, and Nefertiti, to name a few-by this century, there have been numerous examples of dynamic women leaders.

Consider those nations that currently have, or have recently had, women prime ministers or leaders: Great Britain, India, the Philippines, Pakistan, Israel, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and New Zealand. It also seems that, when a nation gets itself into serious distress, it turns to a woman to bring it out of the mire.

Mr Speaker, in case you were wondering what this has to do with potential pregnancy, the link is that there is a common perception that Australian women are already more than equal on all fronts, when this is not true. We think we already live in an advanced society, but in some respects we do not. Women are yet to fully shed the shackles of pregnancy discrimination, let alone progress into the upper echelons of leadership. Women are yet to be assured they can compete for a job, find a place to live, or approach a financial institution on merit without having their child-bearing ability brought into the

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