Tuesday, 16 March 2021
Questions without Notice
March 4 Justice
My question is to the Minister for Women, Senator Payne. In reflecting on the tens of thousands of women who marched for justice across the country, the Prime Minister said, 'Not far from here, such marches, even now, are being met with bullets.' This morning the Minister for Women said the observation was 'an important one'. Is the Minister for Women really endorsing the Prime Minister when he tells Australian women they should feel lucky that they weren't shot?
Honourable senators interjecting—
In a democracy like Australia, there are a number of rights, responsibilities and privileges that I think many, many Australians overwhelmingly treasure and value. One of those is the opportunity to protest and have peaceful demonstrations and peaceful exercises like the one that was undertaken yesterday. Unfortunately, there are too many countries around the world where those privileges, rights and democratic values that underpin our democratic system—
Senator Keneally interjecting—
Senator Pratt interjecting—
are not extended to many, many people.
Those democratic values are not extended to their populations, and in that regard Australia is a fortunate country. Not very far from here, and in a number of places around the world where we have seen recent activities of protest and demonstration, we have seen those met by violence from authorities. In that case, the values of the Australian democracy should be at the forefront of all our minds.
Even Senator Rennick, on the minister's own side, said that the Minister for Women should have attended yesterday's March 4 Justice. Is Senator Rennick wrong? Does the Minister for Women stand by her decision not to attend the March 4 Justice yesterday?
I answered that question in here yesterday. I answered that question again last night and I answered it again this morning. Frankly, I want to reiterate the offer of the Prime Minister, that still stands, to meet with the organisers of yesterday's protest and rally. It's an offer the Prime Minister continues to extend.
It's on relevance. With respect, I'm not sure how the minister can claim she answered a question yesterday on an event that only happened today—that is, that Senator Rennick said today she should have attended the event. Is Senator Rennick wrong?
I guess we won't know if Senator Rennick is wrong. Political reporter Brett Worthington said this morning:
But for the tens of thousands who rallied around the nation, they were looking for signs the nation's leaders were listening.
What they heard was a Prime Minister who said they should be thankful they weren't shot.
When will the Morrison government start listening to women, stop telling them they should feel lucky that they aren't shot and start taking their concerns seriously?
A number of issues in recent weeks in this parliament and elsewhere, including, may I say, some of the very impactful speeches made by people like Australian of the Year Grace Tame and speeches made at yesterday's rally, have led to a very significant debate in this country about matters that go to the core of a number of fundamental issues for Australian women. In that context we as a parliament have taken a number of steps. For a period, those opposite engaged constructively and positively with the Minister for Finance and the Special Minister of State in his efforts to ensure that this parliament is provided with an independent review to be carried out by the Sex Discrimination Commissioner. (Time expired)