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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 14 Hansard (11 December) . . Page.. 5232 ..

MRS BURKE (continuing):

I suspect she would have lobbied her colleagues as hard as possible but they would have ultimately rolled her. This report is simply a waste of time. The government obviously does not rank women's issues as a high priority, which is rather alarming, given the rhetoric and diatribe to which we were exposed prior to the last election.

The government did not answer or address any of the real issues that are facing women. Currently, no strategic plan or approach is in place to meet these recommendations. I sincerely hope that these issues will be dealt with in the forthcoming budget. I remind members that on 16 December the Legislative Assembly will celebrate the 100-year anniversary of women being able to exercise their right to vote and to stand for federal parliament for the first time.

As we recently implemented the Honouring Women initiative this 100-year anniversary is a timely reminder of the importance of inclusiveness. It is a celebration honouring how much women have accomplished and it is an acknowledgement of how much work is yet to be done to achieve the important goals of equity and social justice. That is a strong platform of this government but, sadly, it has let down women in our community.

I concur with the comments made by Mrs Dunne. I call on the government to be a government of its word, to allow this minister to put forward her case, to listen to her when she is lobbying her male colleagues and to ensure that there is provision in the forthcoming budget for women's programs.

MS GALLAGHER (Minister for Education, Youth and Family Services, Minister for Women and Minister for Industrial Relations) (11.57), in reply: I am closing debate on a report that I tabled and I am now minister in charge of the relevant portfolio. I wish to respond to some of the accusations that were made by opposition members this morning.

Prior to the tabling of this comprehensive report Mrs Cross, Ms Dundas and I spent an enormous amount of time working with David Skinner, secretary to the Select Committee on the Status of Women, to put together that report. All those who contributed to debate on this report said that it would serve as a useful guide in the future when decisions had to be made about women's policy. The committee made 59 recommendations but it recognised that not all of them could be progressed immediately.

As a result of the estimates committee process this year the Office for Women, in response to questions asked on notice by Mrs Dunne, provided her with a spreadsheet and table of every recommendation to show how the government was progressing in this area. I think her "thundering silence"accusations were a little over-exaggerated. She is well aware of what the government is doing-this information was provided to her several months ago-to progress these recommendations.

Mrs Dunne: Spreadsheets do not a policy make.

MS GALLAGHER: Spreadsheets actually reflect budget initiatives that address these recommendations. Any relevant identified initiatives or core activities for the outyears address these recommendations. Spreadsheets, which are actually quite detailed, address every recommendation. The estimates committees had access to those documents, which I am happy to provide to any member who is interested in having them.

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