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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2013 Week 04 Hansard (Tuesday, 19 March 2013) . . Page.. 1022 ..


face it, is a male work model. This is a model constructed for men to leave the home and to support a family financially. It has been a hallmark of post-industrialised societies the world over.

However, women have many positive and natural desires to have children, and often to be a close element of raising their own children. I would love to see more opportunities open up, in private industry as well as in public work, for women to be paid on another basis, not simply on the male nine to five model of hours worked. Sophie Mirabella MP, a good woman in our federal parliament, wrote, in her article Australian women and the glass ceiling, about the trend towards women taking up part-time employment, suggesting that family-based decision making may very well be a factor for these women.

What industries could create business models based on outcomes? Because mums are very hard workers and there are times when we have to or want to be at home, what work can women do from home, unsupervised and producing outcomes to gain economic power? It is a point to think deeply about. If we created a new economy of mum-friendly work, they would be more able to afford a home, and we would see fewer family breakdowns, more families having their often deeply desired third and fourth babies and fewer crisis pregnancies because they would be more able to afford an expanding family. This would lead to a society of more content mums who will live their daily lives with a greater sense of self-esteem. When mums are happy and have strong senses of self-esteem, children flourish, families do better and the whole society is stronger.

My great-grandmother, Nonna Giovanna, or “Nonna Giovanin”, as we used to call her, which is the Neopolitan word for her name, was very glad when my mother, a first generation migrant, enrolled in university. “Good,” she is said to have said; “Brava. Then you will never have to rely on a man”—in Italian, of course. Now Nonna Giovanin was a woman from a very poor family from Naples who had emigrated to Australia for her final years. She never learned to speak English. She had lived a very tough life. Her husband spent most of his life doing physical labour all over Italy and returning on some weekends from far away. She had to feed and raise the children on the earnings he returned with each trip home. Together Great Nonna and Great Nonno had faced poverty and difficulty. I do not think my great-grandfather considered his life fantastic as a worker, and I think my great-grandmother lived a tough life, but they supported each other in their efforts and raised their five children. I think her comments about my mother’s education were born out of frustrations at the realities of her life, not a life where she was especially victimised or harshly treated by her husband—certainly not—but a life in which neither of them experienced a great deal of opportunity.

My mother said that, growing up here, she was just so grateful for the many opportunities that Australia offered to her. As an Australian today, I thank my grandparents and great-grandparents for all the sufferings they bore and all the hard work to settle in Australia—as so many families in Canberra do today as well. I love this nation, and I love this city, for its goodness to all of us gathered here today. We have so much to be grateful for.


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