Page 1481 - Week 05 - Wednesday, 6 April 2005

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brought to the fore by these newly released books are continuing, important issues for our community to consider and engage with.

The contribution of the speakers in the public forum was particularly valuable and provided some fantastic and, at times, confronting views of the lives of migrants and refugees living and seeking to live in Australia. Condemnation of the federal government’s policy of mandatory detention was repeatedly voiced, and with good reason.

The experiences detailed in these newly released books are very confronting and expose the reality of the asylum seeker processes in operation in Australia today. I consider that there is an onus on all of us to speak out against these policies and to work for their radical overhaul to ensure a humane, considerate and welcoming environment in Australia and in Canberra for migrants and refugees.

Minister Hargreaves made a point on Sunday—and I agree with him—that we should be talking about these issues to our families and friends, and in our workplaces and unions, to raise awareness and to mobilise broad opposition to the policy of mandatory detention. This is a responsibility of all of us.

Statement in Legislative Assembly
Work and family balance

MRS BURKE (Molonglo) (6.19): Mr Deputy Speaker, I wish to offer an apology in this place right now to Dr Foskey and her staff in regard to a statement I made today in relation to poor communication regarding the legislation she tabled today. I have to now stand up and say that this was incorrect on my part. Accordingly, I do apologise for any offence I may have caused her and her staff as a result of my comments.

I would also like to refer very quickly to an interesting article that many may have seen in the Canberra Times—I am sure the Minister for Women would have seen this—“Why women need to take control of their futures”. I guess the interesting thing that drew my attention was the fact that this article is by Amy Haddad who is a member of the ACT Ministerial Advisory Council on Women. She commended the Chief Minister, as she says, “for adding his weight to the issue of work and family balance”.

I was further interested by Ms Haddad’s comments that she was pleased to see the Chief Minister’s call, as the Chief Minister, for the Council of Australian Governments to have a summit on the subject of work and family balance and his request that men be included in the discussion. I was very pleased that Ms Haddad had brought that out. In fact, I was even thinking to myself, “Well, obviously the Chief Minister saw merit in and adopted my alternative view in the debate that we have had recently in this place on gender-based violence,” as members may recall. That was on 16 February 2005. I certainly look forward to more of a balance in this whole debate about men and women and work and family.

I think Ms Haddad makes some really valid points. She talks about equal sharing of the care of children, particularly when marriages break up. We see the heartache that is caused through the Family Court system by men perhaps not able to have that share of their children, for whatever reason. I also wonder about her comment:

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