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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 2 Hansard (6 March) . . Page.. 661 ..

MS MacDONALD (continuing):

The ACT has the honour of claiming the first Australian female head of government. Rosemary Follett was elected Chief Minister in 1989. Currently in Australia the only female head of government is Clare Martin in the Northern Territory, and only 28 per cent of our parliamentary representatives are women.

In 2000 just 10 per cent of the directors of Australia's top 500 private companies were women. I find that figure more concerning than the lack of representation in our parliaments. We are addressing the issue in our parliaments.

On national government boards and committees, 33.9 per cent of representatives are women, and at the state and territory level, excluding the ACT, the percentage of women on government boards and committees ranges from 25 per cent to 38 per cent. This government is committed to increasing the representation of women in government and public office.

Our current Legislative Assembly in the ACT has an unprecedented seven women members, more than in any of the four Assemblies elected before it, and a huge increase from the Fourth Assembly, when unfortunately we had only two women in this place. I am pleased to see that Ms Tucker, one of those women, is still here.

At present 49 per cent of members of ACT government boards and committees are women. That is by far the highest rate of participation in Australia. This government is actively working to achieve our target of 50 per cent representation of women. Earlier today Ms Dundas, Ms Gallagher and I were at a lunch on women in vocational education and training. Kerry Arabina was talking about being delighted with Jon Stanhope's leadership in making sure that we have that level of representation of women on our government boards.

Those who are elected to government are there to represent the views and needs of those who elected them. To achieve this, it is imperative that elected representatives reflect, and are inclusive of, the whole community.

The Stanhope government has provided the Canberra Capitals women's basketball team with $100,000, which is equal to the funding received by both the Brumbies and the Raiders. The Capitals have won three grand finals in the past four years. I know that you, Mr Deputy Speaker, were at the Capitals grand final victory only a couple of weeks ago, as were I and many others in this place. It was a delight to us all to see the Canberra Capitals, led by Lucillie Bailie, bring home the cup yet again.

The government also provides assistance, not to the same extent but certainly at a fairly high level, to other women's teams such as the Canberra Eclipse, our local women's soccer team in the national competition. I was happy to attend a few of their functions last year, and I wish them all the best this year. They did not do as well last year as they had done the year before, but hopefully they will be coming back this year.

Women make up just over half of the population. It is vital that they be encouraged and supported to participate and contribute at all levels of the community, and in particular as part of decision-making bodies. The leadership of any organisation or group is enhanced

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