Page 807 - Week 03 - Wednesday, 9 March 2005

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in Canberra who are active in Unifem and, indeed, in the agency that I have had a good deal to do with, the International Women’s Development Agency. Women actually like to work with other women. They are aware that in helping women, and it is as true in this community as in any other, they are helping more than the women themselves, because of our sense of family, our love for our children and our husbands—if we have them, and if they are lovable—and so on.

Women in Canberra are interested in working with women elsewhere. Women in Canberra worked very hard in 1995 to make a strong Beijing platform for action, and I know many of the women. I remember the network CAPOW, participating organisations of women, and how hard they worked at a time when the federal government was willing to support women’s organisations. Sadly, we are in a time when women’s organisations are running poor. The Women’s Electoral Lobby has not been able to employ anyone for a large number of years—in fact; very few national women’s organisations are employed. For that reason, I commend the ACT government for the fact that it supports the work of women’s groups in this territory. One of the things that women have learned, and that I have learned from my studies in women in development, is that women need to work together to get anywhere.

If women at home knew that there were many other women with the same issues, and if they could have the opportunity to get together—I think it is called empowerment—it might benefit their lot. So all support for women, especially support for their organisations and especially support for those organisations that work with the women who, at the moment, are least empowered and perhaps unable to articulate their problems, and were therefore not present or eligible for the awards that were awarded last night.

MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (4.26): I fully endorse Ms Porter’s proposal to recognise the outstanding contributions which Canberra women regularly make to both the local and global communities. I particularly want to mention the outstanding contributions that Canberra women regularly make to the local community through participation in this Assembly.

The ACT, in general, has long had a more enlightened attitude to women’s affairs than is true for the rest of the country. And this is true of all political parties. Women are well represented in both general membership and parliamentary representation. In the Liberal Party, we have a long and proud tradition of encouraging women’s participation. So much so that we have never felt the need to insist on quotas or targets. Labor, naturally, has to do so.

As the ACT Liberal policy platform makes clear, we believe in the innate work of individuals and their right to be independent, and we encourage initiative and personal responsibility. In like vein, all voting members of the Liberal Party participate in policy development. We have always had equity in practice rather than as purely cosmetic principle.

The Greens, it must be said, have always encouraged women’s participation—even when it has obviously been against their own best interests. And as Dr Foskey has demonstrated in her numerous interventions in this place since being elected, at their best, the Greens’ women representatives are fearless. In the case of the ALP, women’s

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