Senate debates

Tuesday, 16 March 2021

Questions without Notice: Take Note of Answers

Sexual Harassment, March 4 Justice, Women's Safety

3:26 pm

Photo of Susan McDonaldSusan McDonald (Queensland, National Party) Share this | Hansard source

I rise to take note of answers. I am going to find it hard to get through this take note debate today because we, as women of the coalition, are a part of women of Australia and we all share in the distress, the anguish and the horror of sexual assaults right across this land. Yesterday, I was scheduled to speak here in the chamber and was not able to be there for the start of the march. I committed to going down to lend my presence to the issue of sexual assault in workplaces right across this land. I listened to the words spoken by Senator McCarthy. I too am frustrated and horrified by the ongoing assaults, particularly in Indigenous communities but right across my part of the world in Northern Queensland.

I spend time with the women's centre, with Yumba-Meta, in Townsville, understanding their challenges and the role that they play in supporting victims, both men and women. Yet I find myself today somehow not quite good enough a woman. Somehow I find myself today not woman enough to be included by the opposition. You would think that our shared experiences would in some way bind us. But, instead, I again find part of my voice being taken away and the people I represent being taken away. I weep that, in somehow holding up people—individuals—who have had no part in these assaults, we are politicising an issue that should never be in this chamber. We are good men, and good women, yet we have to be lectured on not being women enough.

I do stand with the victims of these assaults. I am horrified and outraged that this should happen, that this should still be happening in this land. And it is not just in parliament. It is in workplaces, communities, homes, hospitals and retirement villages. Yet, instead of standing together, instead of this being a bipartisan event to try to stamp this out, to educate and to provide resources, we are going to turn this into another way of dividing us.

I am disappointed beyond words, because when I go and speak to communities, women's centres and men's centres, this is not the story I want to take back—that we are not united, that there is not a deep desire to see sexual assaults in this land finish. This government has committed funding to centres, has spoken on this, has provided resources in every state and territory. And the next person who seeks to politicise this by making it somehow the responsibility of some people who are not the right sort, not the right gender, not the right colour, not the right party or not from the right region should be ashamed, because they perpetuate this attack on the very people we should be working together with.


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