House debates

Tuesday, 16 March 2021

Constituency Statements

March 4 Justice

4:18 pm

Photo of Julie CollinsJulie Collins (Franklin, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Agriculture) Share this | | Hansard source

Yesterday, it was a real privilege to walk outside of this building with many of my Labor colleagues, and some from the other side, in the March 4 Justice. This was an optimistic moment when over 100,000 Australians took time out of their busy day, on a Monday, a working day, to march and say, 'Enough is enough.' I'm so proud of my colleagues for going out yesterday, unlike some on the other side, particularly the Minister for Women and the Prime Minister, who failed to show up when it mattered. We heard from some amazing speakers. I want to particularly thank Ms Brittany Higgins for turning up yesterday and for her wonderful, powerful and incredibly brave speech. I think she summed it up when she said:

We are all here today not because we want to be here, but because we have to be here ...

That expresses the frustrations of so many Australian men and women. They have seen so many Australian women so frustrated for so long. We are frustrated; we are tired. We are tired of the sexual harassment; we're tired of the sexual assaults; we're tired of the rapes; we're tired of the violence against women and their children; we're tired of the murders that are happening in Australia by intimate partners of women almost every week. We're tired. We want action from our government.

Yesterday after question time when the Prime Minister stood up on indulgence I was hopeful. I was hopeful that finally, after eight years of this government, somebody was going to stand up and take the moment and have heard what the voices around Australia were telling them yesterday. I was hopeful that we were going to get a statement of action from the Prime Minister. Instead what we got was a statement about: how great is our democracy? How good it is that we weren't rained on by bullets. Absolutely, that was a good thing that we weren't, but a better thing would have been to hear from a Prime Minister who listens, who is acting and is doing something about it. Australian women and Australian men have had enough. They want things changed and they want them done soon.

For this government to have sat on the report into sexual harassment in the workplace, the respect at work report done by Kate Jenkins, the Sex Discrimination Commissioner, for a year with virtually no action is not good enough. It is a real fear from people who work in this building that when Kate Jenkins does her report into what happens in this place and how we fix it—it cannot sit on a government minister's desk for 12 months. It is simply not good enough, what has happened up until today, and we need action.