Page 935 - Week 03 - Wednesday, 22 March 2017
What is the government’s plan to ensure that all directorates are kept accountable to the women’s plan? I will support anything that does this. I want to see women here in the ACT applying for jobs as police officers and firefighters without hesitating because of their gender. When I was young, I was an army reservist and it was an empowering experience. I want to see mothers confidently applying their skills in the workforce without fear of losing their jobs or experiencing too much stress and embarrassment because of their children and their personal sanitation needs. I want to see women in the prison having the opportunity to develop their skills in a wide variety of industries so they can gain the benefits of these upon their release into the community.
This government, I believe, or at least some members of it, want to be the most inclusive jurisdiction in the country. Yet when the prison was expanded, there was not initially a plan for equal opportunities for women in the programs that were being developed for the men. This government want to be the most welcoming jurisdiction in the country, yet some women are not catered for properly in our ACT government controlled workplaces.
I hope these issues will be resolved. I will welcome it if they are. I hope the government and the Greens will support the amendment that Ms Cheyne has moved. We will be supporting it. I commend the motion to the Assembly.
MS LE COUTEUR (Murrumbidgee) (5.46): I am pleased to stand today in support of this motion and also to be part of the first female majority parliament in Australia’s history. The Greens, of course, also recognise the significant and critical contribution of women and girls to the cultural, social, political and economic fabric of the ACT. I am also pleased, of course, to support Ms Cheyne’s amendments, which I think have been a very good take-up of Mrs Jones’s proposed amendment. I think that the particular virtue of Mrs Jones’s proposed amendment was to concentrate us on the real, practical, day-to-day issues which sometimes in the Assembly we probably lose sight of. I think that was a very valuable proposed amendment and it is great that the two sides worked together.
We know that women make up 52 per cent of both our community and our Assembly but we know that women are vastly underrepresented in many areas of civil society. This is not a Canberra phenomenon, an Australian phenomenon; it is a worldwide phenomenon. A recent report by Oxfam, which some people may have seen, suggested that eight men own the same wealth as the 3.6 billion people who make up the poorest half of humanity. That is an appalling statement. They are all men!
As Ms Cheyne mentioned in her speech, research shows that fewer large Australian companies are run by women than by men named John, Peter and David. Those straight, white, able-bodied men between the ages of 40 and 69 represent the majority of Australian leadership; yet they make up only 8.4 per cent of our population. The other thing on this note—and you probably all saw it this week—was that awkward photo of President Trump refusing to shake Angela Merkel’s hand. That was news because the world’s press was there.