Page 468 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 16 February 2005

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The ACT government is committed to protecting the rights and interests of all Canberrans, in particular this means protecting the interests of those who are most vulnerable in our community. We have a duty to all our constituents to provide legislative and advocacy-based support to all Canberrans. The proactive measures that the ACT government has taken and continues to take in relation to gender-based violence are just some of the examples of this government fulfilling its responsibility.

I congratulate Ms MacDonald on bringing this matter to the attention of the Assembly and I hereby assure the ACT community that I, along with my government colleagues, will do everything within our power to reduce the occurrence of these terrible crimes in our community.

MS MacDONALD (Brindabella) (11.45), in reply: I would like to thank Dr Foskey, Ms Gallagher and Ms Porter for their contributions to the debate, and I thank all members for their support of the motion. I always find it an interesting approach, Mr Speaker, when members of the opposition get up and say they support a motion or a bill and then they go on basically to slag it off.

I say to Mrs Burke that maybe she should have actually listened to my speech, because I talked about ways that the government is addressing issues. One thing that I did not mention was the fact that one of the first things that the Stanhope Labor government did when it first came to office was to establish the Select Committee into the Status of Women, which Ms Gallagher was on at that point, and since then we have gone on to implement and take account of the report that came out of that select committee. So if Mrs Burke is looking for practical ways that this government has actually dealt with ensuring the safety of women, she should look at those things and listen to some of the things that have been said in this place. It would be nice for Mrs Burke to listen to what other people say. I sometimes wonder if there is a clanging going on in her head that stops her hearing anything that is said by anybody other than herself.

I will not say much more than that, other than that Mrs Burke spoke for over nine minutes and did not make any sense in those nine minutes. I would agree with what Ms Gallagher said, that it really was quite an outrageous speech on the part of Mrs Burke. I think that I will leave it at the minister’s comments, which pretty much demolished the arguments that Mrs Burke put forward—which were not based on anything. Mrs Burke stands up and says that she will not take statistics into account because they can be misused, but she does not back up anything that she says with anything reliable or anything evidence based.

As for the comments made by Dr Foskey, I agree that it is a concern that the number of reported incidents continues to rise and that more effort needs to be made. I think that is very important. It is one of the reasons why I put this motion on the notice paper back in December and why I am still continuing with it today. As I said in my introductory speech, even though White Ribbon Day is in November, violence against women takes place every day of the year. So I think it is pertinent that we talk about it whenever we can. We need to be ever vigilant in making sure that we do what we can. I thank Ms Gallagher and Ms Porter as well for their comments in support. Ms Gallagher raised a number of practical things that this government is doing to address the issues.

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