Page 813 - Week 03 - Wednesday, 9 March 2005

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I think we are all aware of the range of issues that women, particularly, face in homes, in the workplace and as carers. We need, continually, to be reminded of the road yet to be travelled in assuring a genuine equality of opportunity for women in the Canberra community, for women throughout Australia and throughout the world. Many of the barriers and much of the discrimination, or the difficulty faced by women is at time insidious. It is not generally acknowledged and much of it, of course, comes as a result of enculturation of men and the stereotyping of women in certain roles. Stereotyping or acceptance or enculturation leads to inequality between men and women, not just in the home but also in workplaces and in many other places throughout our society, throughout the community. It is important that we do not just dwell on that, that we acknowledge the enormous contribution that women make as they deal with all different aspects of life. I am very pleased to have been able to contribute to the debate today.

MR SPEAKER: The discussion is concluded.

Smoking in public places

Debate resumed.

MR SMYTH (Brindabella—Leader of the Opposition) (4.48): This is an interesting motion. It follows some recent amendments by the Assembly to the Smoking (Prohibition in Enclosed Public Places) Act. It is interesting because, to the best of my knowledge, we still await an explanation by the minister as to the meaning of the 75:25 per cent rule in the regulations. I think the government has got to clear up that confusion quite quickly. In an article running on the ABC, the ACT health department has conceded that the so-called 75:25 rule is arbitrary and is not supported by any scientific study.

We need to know how the government will make this work because it is not enough to simply say that we have set this rule and the rule will go ahead. Perhaps the minister might like to seek leave to speak again. I would like to know, firstly, when will we see the regulations; secondly, how will they administer those regulations and, thirdly, how will they monitor the effect of those regulations? I think there is uncertainty out there and unless we clear up this uncertainty, the confusion may well have the effect of undoing the big step forward that this legislation largely is.

That being said, this will still be too slow for some; for others it will be too fast. Given that the ACT has led the way on anti-smoking legislation for a long time, one can understand the sense of frustration out there in the community. We on this side of the house have said and maintained consistently that we would like to see the entire community going forward. We do not want people dropping off the end. We do not want people breaking the law. We do not want people standing in the way of the law and court action and legal action and all that might come from it. The only way to achieve real change in how we address smoking is to work together. I have spoken to people on all sides of the argument, be they doctors or publicans or club directors or whatever. Everybody concedes that smoking is not a good thing and that there must be a path together.

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