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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 07 Hansard (Wednesday, 2 August 2017) . . Page.. 2345 ..


I have great hopes that having more women in this place, more sisters in the struggle, will lessen the risk of downgrading basic rights and protections for women and ensure that policies always protect women and support them to live the lives that they want and need to live.

I am grateful and thankful that my dad made it his goal to free women from the bounds of outdated legislation and to pave the way for women to be able to find the support and services that they need, in their time of need, without the threat of a 10-year jail sentence. I thank Ms Cheyne for bringing the motion to the Assembly, and I support continued conversation and continued vigilance in this place to ensure that those rights continue.

MS FITZHARRIS (Yerrabi—Minister for Health, Minister for Transport and City Services and Minister for Higher Education, Training and Research) (12.00): I join with my colleagues to thank Ms Cheyne for bringing this very important motion into the Assembly. I am incredibly proud of the achievements of this and previous Labor governments in supporting and promoting the rights of women, not only here in the Assembly but also right across all walks of life in our community, through the labour movement and more broadly in our economy.

We do believe in promoting and safeguarding the freedoms and rights necessary for women and girls to participate in all areas of Canberra life. We have enshrined them in legislation. We walk the walk and we help and support women and girls so they can have opportunities our mothers, their mothers and their mothers before them worked so hard for.

Labor has done more to encourage women in public life than any other political party in Australia, indeed, right across the world. We believe in equity, equal pay, diversity and choice. It particularly saddens me that in 2017 we still have a significant pay gap between men and women, which effectively means that for every working week women work nearly a whole extra day, relative to men, and do not get paid for it. We do have a lot more work to do to progress this social change.

Ms Cheyne has discussed the importance of the right to reproductive freedom and the need to support women’s sexual and reproductive health. I know that this can be a sensitive issue amongst some members of our community. I want to make it clear that access to these types of health services—safe, regulated services that can be accessed without experiencing fear, prejudice or regret—is an individual right. I support unequivocally a woman’s right to choose. It is essential that we provide health services to women in this community for the services that they need, when they need them. The efforts of the other side, in particular their activism in opposing exclusion zones around abortion clinics, are not something that I support.

I thank Minister Berry, the Deputy Chief Minister, very much for an extremely important reminder of the history of this issue. Mr Coe, some 30 minutes after saying that it was outrageous to rebuke a member of the opposition for bringing a motion to this place, then barefaced got up and said exactly the same thing to Ms Cheyne. The hypocrisy is staggering.


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