Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 07 Hansard (Wednesday, 2 August 2017) . . Page.. 2337 ..
Are Ms Cheyne, the Labor MLAs and the Green MLAs saying that it was wrong for Canberrans to cast a vote for these people? Was it wrong for thousands of Canberrans to vote for these people? Not for one minute would I say that it was wrong for anybody to vote for a Labor MLA or for a Green MLA. But to say that members of this place are not entitled to exercise their conscience I think is reprehensible.
Further to this, the idea of forcing a non-executive member of the Assembly, as per clause 6, to do something is quite unusual. But as I have just said, the motion is redundant because I can confirm that the Canberra Liberals do not have a policy view on this issue. This is because the Liberal Party allows its members to have a free vote, to exercise their conscience, to exercise their personal views on this matter. The Canberra Liberals do not railroad people into voting one way or another on conscience issues.
There are numerous other issues that are listed in this motion that my colleague Mrs Jones, as the acting shadow minister for women, will address. She has been a leading advocate in the Assembly on many issues in this space—issues affecting women in Canberra. Many of them she has brought through motions into the Assembly. She has discussed them in committees or in question time. She will be reflecting on some of the other issues mentioned in this motion but also addressing many of the issues that are not listed in this motion that are pressing for many women in Canberra.
MRS JONES (Murrumbidgee) (11.30): I thank Ms Cheyne for raising another motion about her passion for matters affecting women. Up front I would like to deal with my naming in the motion, and I reiterate what I said at the time: I am more than happy to speak to any group of young people about democracy, politics and how they can have their voice heard, especially groups where young women are seeking answers and information. I think we have a women’s minister, in Minister Berry, who is trying to find better solutions for women; however, it is clear that we have more work to do, and there is so much that still needs to be done.
In my time here as shadow minister for women, a portfolio that I am really proud to have in the shadow ministry, I have worked to provide very practical solutions that will genuinely impact women’s daily lives. Since arriving here, I have called on the government to address the extremely high levels of discrimination and harassment that women experience during pregnancy, upon announcing a pregnancy, whilst on maternity leave and once they return to the workforce. It is an ongoing problem and I would welcome any focus that the minister would put on this matter, as it no doubt affects many Canberra women every year. It would be well worthwhile conducting a thorough survey of all women in our own ACT government departments, to get to the bottom of some of these issues, as well as ensuring that, if there are issues affecting women in our direct influence, we could see those resolved.
I went to the last election with a platform of allowing more flexible work arrangements for any ACT government employee, so that management would need to