Adjournment - Gender Equality

09 February 2022


I rise this evening to acknowledge the tremendous, powerful speeches given by two remarkable Australian women at the National Press Club today. These are two women who not only have changed the national conversation but also, I believe, have changed and will continue to change the nation. Their bravery and courage—not just today but every day they have raised their voices and truth to power—have amplified and electrified a cultural movement for change that I believe will deliver an Australia that is safer and better, especially for women and children.

As a nation, I believe, we owe Grace Tame and Brittany Higgins so much. I hope everyone in this parliament has listened to their speeches today. There is so much to say and to reflect on in their speeches, but in the short time I have available to me this evening I want to reflect on one word which both Ms Higgins and Ms Tame used. That word is 'accountability'. Ms Higgins said, 'Without accountability, we are back to a world where we are describing the problem being seen as sufficient,' and Ms Tame said, with regard to the sexual abuse of children and others, 'There can be no progress without accountability.' It is time to deliver accountability, whether that's in implementing the recommendations of the Jenkins report or in doing the work required to be able to measure progress under the National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children.

It is accountability that will be essential to deliver the change that is so desperately needed. I am not naive as to the challenges involved in that. To deliver accountability requires tough conversations and tough considerations. It requires us to reflect deeply and honestly, and it requires an earnest and unwavering commitment to change and to challenging conversations. It requires transparency. I believe there is much for all of us to learn from these two remarkable women—as individuals, yes, but more importantly as parliamentarians, legislators and community leaders. It's up to our generation within these walls, this chamber and this parliament to respond to their calls, to deliver the accountability that they demand and to deliver change. I want to be part of a parliament that is accountable to the people it serves and to the people who work within it.