Page 807 - Week 03 - Wednesday, 21 March 2018

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edge ever closer to true equality. I have no doubt that the ACT government will continue its efforts to improve the health, education and social outcomes for women and girls in our community, and I commend the motion to the Assembly.

MS LAWDER (Brindabella) (11.33): The Canberra Liberals note the strength, determination and talent of women across the ACT. There are, of course, many great women in the ACT who support and lead our community in a range of fields, whether it is public administration, health care, education, sport, business, emergency services, disability advocacy, academia—the list goes on. Of course, we all recently enjoyed the celebrations for International Women’s Day on 8 March. While we celebrated the universal achievements and successes of women, we also had the chance to reflect on the barriers that remain. There has, as Ms Cheyne has said, been plenty done and achieved, but there remains plenty to do to truly allow all women to achieve equality.

I attended a number of wonderful events to celebrate International Women’s Day that were held throughout that week. They included a breakfast by the National Association of Women in Construction, a YWCA event, a UN Women lunch and the Jasiri self-defence class which was attended by my colleagues Elizabeth Lee, who taught the class, Candice Burch and Ms Le Couteur.

In the portfolio of women there is so much to celebrate and so much to acknowledge, and there is still deep concern amongst Canberra’s women to achieve their aspirations and for the elimination of hurdles to the achievement of those aspirations. I thank Ms Cheyne for bringing forward the motion today noting the strength of Canberra women, celebrating the success of women, acknowledging the work of organisations supporting women’s issues and promoting work to support women and girls to reach their full potential.

No doubt there are many, many matters that still need to be addressed. Ms Le Couteur raised just this morning her preference for the local availability of home pregnancy termination drugs, and obviously for some people that is the next frontier. These are matters that many in this place would like to see addressed. But also there is no doubt that some Canberra women would like to see other changes that we do not know about here. I encourage Ms Cheyne, the Minister for Women and all here to listen to all women, not just those who join or apply to join ministerial advisory councils and other bodies.

Ms Cheyne’s motion starts out by celebrating women and their successes but then separately calls on the Assembly to commit to a position on abortion and termination services, a topic upon which we had a bill presented just this morning. This is not the way we should be dealing with this important issue. As is well known, this is a conscience issue for us on this side of the chamber. We think this is an issue important enough to warrant a motion on its own rather than using a broader motion purportedly celebrating the achievements of women as a means to score some short-term political points against those with diverse cultural or religious views. We would hope that members in this place were above that, but clearly not.

With that being said, and in the spirit of cooperation and the importance of women’s aspirations, which we do share, I will speak on what this motion should be seeking to

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