Page 4135 - Week 11 - Thursday, 21 September 2017

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Opposition members interjecting

We always hear the opposition talk about how they are a great representation of the diversity of the community, and their interjections just then were the same. Given that the Canberra Liberals do pride themselves on the number of women elected from their party, which we have heard them talk about a number of times this week alone, you would think they would stand up for women. If the Canberra Liberals truly want to appear as an alternative government, they cannot simply abdicate on critical issues such as this to a minister’s personal views and hope for the best.

Indeed, if Mr Parton was really serious, genuinely serious, about the need to include everyone then he should have been putting pressure on the opposition leader to define his policy platform on women’s sexual and reproductive health in these past 50 days—not five days, not 10 days, not 30 days but 50 days. He is clearly too busy concerning himself with the rights of heterosexual, employed men over 30. So I will do it for him. I continue to call on the opposition leader, as the leader of the alternative government, to prioritise making his party’s position clear so that the women of the ACT are properly informed of the opposition’s intentions.

Same-sex marriage postal survey

MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (4.46): It has been reported in the Canberra Times that the Minister for Education and Early Childhood Development has “had to remind a Canberra school of their obligation to be inclusive after one non-government school asked parents to vote no in the postal survey on same-sex marriage”. The article goes on to say that Ms Berry had “urged ACT schools to remember the diversity of their staff and students”. Hear, hear! Ms Berry added:

All schools have a duty to provide a safe, respectful and inclusive environment free from bullying, harassment, discrimination and violence.

I wish Ms Berry would take a leaf out of her own book. May I remind Ms Berry that her government is urging the people of the ACT to vote in a particular way in this marriage debate and that the government is using taxpayers’ money to support that urging, to the exclusion of others. I understand, from a constituent that Ms Fitzharris had a conversation with recently in which Ms Fitzharris was asked why the government is not spending money on the other side of the marriage debate, Ms Fitzharris responded by saying, “Anyone can campaign for the other side in the debate.” And that is true, as I have done, but they will not be doing it with taxpayers’ funds, will they?

By using taxpayers’ money to support one side of the debate, the ACT government is, in effect, trying to bully and harass—Ms Berry’s words—the people of the ACT into voting in a particular way. By this behaviour, the ACT government itself is engaging in the behaviour that Ms Berry has accused a Canberra school of. If I might, I will paraphrase Ms Berry and say this to the government, “With the diversity of views in the ACT community, the people of the ACT should be encouraged to be themselves without experiencing prejudice.”

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