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Monday, 23 November 2009
Page: 12570

Mr NEUMANN (7:16 PM) —I commend the member for Gippsland and the member for Hindmarsh for their contributions and I agree with them wholeheartedly that this needs a bipartisan approach. It is with sadness and regret that I note that the member for Indi has tried to politicise this motion. This is a very serious matter and it should be above partisan politics. She linked this issue with an alleged squandering in excess of $16 billion under the Building the Education Revolution. I can tell the member for Indi this: there are 313 projects in 85 schools in my electorate, and those school communities do not believe we have squandered the money that they are using to benefit the children. It is really a shame and disgraceful that this motion has been linked in this way. It is to be regretted.

I commend the member for Gippsland for his very accurate, sterling and sensitive contribution to this debate. The member for Hindmarsh is correct in saying that violence against women is cowardly. It is unheroic and unmanly. Violence takes many forms. In my more than 20 years practising as a family lawyer I saw many cases, spoke with many clients and prosecuted and defended many cases involving domestic violence. Domestic violence takes many forms, and people do not acknowledge it. The White Ribbon Foundation is to be commended for bringing to the attention of the Australian public, particularly Australian men, the fact that violence takes a multitude of forms—for example, physical abuse, threats, damage of property, forcing another person to have sex, depriving someone of the necessities of life, demanding someone hand over their Centrelink payment, criticising, humiliating, forcing someone out of a car or into a car, abusing someone in front of children, taking the children away, repeatedly stalking someone or phoning them and other things that put someone at risk and make them feel ashamed or humiliated or fill them with feelings of inadequacy. These are terrible things that are perpetrated by so many men against so many women.

The Queensland Police Service estimates that there are 30,000 instances of domestic violence in Queensland alone each year. The CEO Challenge has urged employers to recognise that domestic violence costs—as it did in 2003—in excess of $8 billion to the Australian economy because women come to the workplace feeling inadequate and that they are not productive, their self-esteem is lowered and they feel they cannot contribute at home or in the workplace. So this is an economic issue, but it is also a personal issue and a familial issue which affects all of us. The member for Indi is trying to politicise it. I was going to speak without mentioning what she had to say. I was going to speak in a very bipartisan manner, but I have to say to the member for Indi that she really needs to have a look at herself for politicising this very serious issue.

There are implications for children as well. Children copy violent or abusive behaviour. They are stunned into terrified silence. We see them frustrated and angry, humiliated and depressed. Bed-wetting happens and there is suicidal idealisation. They end up running away from home. They start abusing alcohol and other substances. They try to intervene to stop the abuse and they are hurt. They feel that their lives are not worth living and that there is no refuge and no safety anywhere. It is a shame that we are politicising this by this motion.

My electorate of Blair has many great organisations which adopt the same attitude as the Rudd Labor government that there is zero tolerance with respect to domestic violence. I do not accept that the Rudd government has done nothing. The Time for Action plan was formally received by the Prime Minister on 29 April 2009. We contributed nearly $42 million in terms of a new national telephone and online crisis service, more primary prevention activities, a national scheme for registration of domestic and family violence orders and more research.

My electorate has many great groups such as the Ipswich Women’s Centre Against Domestic Violence and I commend Gabrielle Borggaard for the work they do. There are also the Ipswich and the West Moreton Lifeline, Booval Community Service and the wonderful work done by coordinator Bianca Law, Ipswich Community Youth Service and the Family Relationships Centre. All of them work very hard to prevent domestic violence in our community. (Time expired)

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Ms S Bird)—Order! The time allotted for this debate has expired. The debate is adjourned and the resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day for the next sitting.