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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 7 Hansard (6 June) . . Page.. 2083 ..

National Women's Constitutional Convention

MS DUNDAS (6.53): Mr Speaker, I rise today to speak briefly about the upcoming National Women's Constitutional Convention which is to be held in Canberra next week. The purpose of this conference is to celebrate 100 years of women's suffrage and to promote women's continuing involvement in political reform and constitutional change.

Trying to get women involved in politics is something that I take very seriously. Just this week I had the privilege of addressing a number of young women from Canberra Girls Grammar to do just this. During the discussion I was asked about some of the difficulties of being a young woman in what is otherwise a male dominated world. I set my mind back and thought about whether the members in our chamber act in a manner that promotes the continuing involvement in politics by women.

Two unfortunate memories stand clear in my mind. The first was at the ClubsACT awards dinner when the Chief Minister announced that Treasurer Quinlan was the government's leading feminist. I found this to be an amazing statement, given the Chief Minister does purport to be the Minister for Women. Further, I believe that two-thirds of his backbench, who were present at that dinner, have greater claims to feminist ideals than the Treasurer.

This week we saw the government's leading feminist in true form when he looked down the chamber and announced his total opposition to the policy positions of the crossbench members, but then declared that he would have to give his support as he needed the votes of "those two women at the end". What followed was a silly discourse over whether he was being discriminatory, patronising, grovelling, or all three. I will leave it up to the government's leading feminist to determine what he was doing. However, that performance and the following days performance in question time in front of students from the Canberra Girls Grammar certainly showed them that policy debates are often the subject of pragmatic voting and who can speak loudest.

I look forward to the women's constitutional convention, where I will be taking the positive step of delivering a paper on young women as political activists. I hope that all members will take a keen interest in the convention that we have the pleasure of hosting in this city. I also look forward to considering any recommendations that might come out of that conference. Perhaps the government's leading feminist, Treasurer Quinlan, may attend.

MR SPEAKER: At 7 o'clock, I am going to close the house down. We have an industrial understanding that once we give an undertaking to finish at 7, that is when we finish.

Aboriginal health

MS MacDONALD (6.56): I did not manage to finish the speech I made earlier today during the debate on the matter of public importance. I will do so briefly now, and others can speak after me.

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