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Tuesday, 13 May 2014
Page: 2523

Senator SINGH (Tasmania) (23:16): I rise tonight to give my condolences, respect and deepest gratitude to a very special Tasmanian, Evelyn Loois Masterman AM, who sadly passed away on Monday 5 May 2014 just weeks before her 107th birthday. I offer my condolences to her family and friends, and my deepest respect to Eve. I am so grateful for having known her and learnt of her life and contribution to the community.

Eve was born in the United Kingdom and moved to Tasmania with her family in 1912. Following school, Eve taught French and history in England and Switzerland before returning to Tasmania at the outbreak of Word War II, where she helped translate for French Antarctic crews arriving in Tasmania. Eve was the first Tasmanian Parliamentary Librarian in 1945, a role she held for some 20 years.

She worked tirelessly for social justice, peace and the environment to the day. Eve joined the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom in the 1940s. I would like to detail some of her involvement in WILPF to give an indication of her dedication and commitment to her ideals. From 1963 until 2013, Eve Masterman is mentioned practically every month in the minutes of WILPF Tasmania's meetings, unless she was overseas. As an active member, Eve was quietly and effectively working as president or secretary—or in one executive position or another—except treasurer, which she would never undertake. With her skills as a librarian, Eve was convener of the branch's library book subcommittee for over 40 years, working with the State Library of Tasmania and WILPF's other peace libraries, regularly donating hard copies of books connected with peace and human rights and making sure the books were displayed and carefully cared for. Eve was outspoken and fearless, and often did research for submissions and wrote to the media or to politicians on issues of concern at both state and national level.

Eve was a member of the Australian Section's national executive, both when Tasmania was acting as the national executive on three occasions and when she was a Section vice-president or a Tasmanian representative on the board.

From 1963 until 2013, Eve shared her poems and regularly gave wonderful talks to WILPF and to the community on her bushwalking trips, her travels and her volunteer work in various countries. Once the Quaker peace forest was established at Berriedale in 1991, Eve made this a personal responsibility and visited frequently—often daily—even during her 105th year to plant and weed, especially in her latter years when she was not travelling quite as much. Eve's last visit to the park with WILPF members was for the tree-planting ceremony on the International Day of Peace on 21 September 2013.

Eve took part in virtually every event in which the branch was involved: in rallies, vigils, seminars, workshops, protests, fundraising stalls—you name it—supporting other groups' events, always representing WILPF's aims, interests and concerns.

Eve represented the Australian Section at several of WILPF's international congresses and, on at least one occasion, she stayed on in Geneva working voluntarily in the WILPF international office for some months. Beside regular donations, she quietly gave large donations for WILPF international's work in needy countries and their local work.

WILPF have lost a most outstanding member at all levels of the organisation; a member whose life was embedded in and actively lived in peace; a life of courage, of quiet wisdom and of great enjoyment, and who, with Bronwen Meredith and Audrey Moore, provided that solid core of the Tasmanian branch of WILPF and around whom a stable membership has remained together since 1963.

Besides her Human Rights and UN International Peace Awards, as well as her local awards, Eve received an AM in the Order of Australia in 1976 and is a member of the Tasmanian women's honour roll. She has been well recognised as a wonderful and respected example of a great contributor to the community. The members of WILPF will deeply miss her physical presence, although it is certain that her spirit will live on and inspire all members to work into the future for an end to war and violence and for a world of peace.

I first got to meet Eve in the early 2000s when I joined, and later became president of, the United Nations Association of Australia Tasmanian Branch. I gained my first understanding of the Women's International League of Peace and Freedom by going along to a WILPF meeting and getting to know Eve and also Bronwen Meredith, Audrey Moore, Hilary Martin, Linley Grant, Aileen Walters, Margo Roe, Doreen Shenman, Doreen Battey, Lesley Alcorso, 'Yabbo' Thompson, Pegg Walter, Margaret Wood, Jean Panton OAM, Joy Gough, Rosemary Brown, Kay Binet, Jo Upcher, Dr Jenni Bond and Pym Trueman. Little did I know then the impact that these women for peace would have on my future career.

Their commitment to peace was unwavering, and yet, despite all the atrocities going on in the world, they would start their meetings by acknowledging all the good things—the wins, however small, that had taken place in the name of peace. It lifted my spirits and gave me a sense of hope and belief about realising peace in our world. The next thing I knew I was out marching with these incredible WILPF women through the streets for International Women's Day, United Nations Day, anti-war marches and, really, any other reason to march for peace and social justice—the WILPF women were out for it. They were such an inspiration to me and continue to be.

Eve was an integral part of the WILPF team and the peace movement and she stood for everything decent about humanity. In recognition of her contribution, the WILPF Tasmania branch established the Eve Masterman Peace Poetry Prize. She was also a member of Alliance Francaise, an organisation I also have a strong connection to, and an inaugural member of Service International. Eve received the Australian Peace Prize in 1986 for her work with WILPF and the United Nations award in 2001 for her lifetime of dedication to the cause of peace and loyalty to the United Nations and its Tasmanian association.

Even at 106 years of age, Eve had an incredibly strong spirit. Every day, she went to the Berriedale Peace Park, a place she was instrumental in establishing so many years ago. Eve remains an inspiration to us all, and I am privileged to be putting on record here tonight her incredible contribution to the Tasmanian community. Rest in peace, Eve Masterman; you will be greatly missed.

I now want to turn to another important matter currently facing humanity. While much of the discussion in parliament this week is on the budget, it is important that we take the time to address an issue that has shocked the international community. A month ago, families of more than 200 girls in Nigeria were told their daughters had been abducted. Other than video messages containing threats, they are still waiting for news of their wellbeing, some four weeks later. As my colleague Tanya Plibersek stated, the situation is horrific. It is every parent's worst nightmare. Our thoughts are with the girls, families and friends.

Labor has called on the Abbott government to do all it can to assist, including using our position on the UN Security Council to help drive an effective international response. Labor offers every support possible. I commend the work of UNICEF in supporting the campaign to raise global awareness along with organisations like Amnesty International and Civil Society around the world and the Twitter campaign #BringBackOurGirls. UNICEF has backed the efforts of the Nigerian community to make their government take action and work to bring the girls home.

Nigeria is a country with significant natural resources but its impoverished northern regions, where socio-economic indicators are lower than in the rest of the country, provide a fertile ground for recruitment by extremist groups such as Boko Haram. Unfortunately, given the Abbott government's cuts to foreign aid, Australia is increasingly unable to offer its assistance to remedy these problems, which is a terrible shame. Just as the families pleas for help from not only the Nigerian government but also, importantly, the international community have met with little substance of assistance, the region's historical request for greater support in areas of education, good governance and the strengthening of civil society has also received negligible response.

Only last year, the Abbott government cut $4.5 billion of Australian foreign aid that is essential to the creation of stable nations by supporting good governance, creating and supporting civil organisations and supporting women's education and reproductive health programs—all the things that are important to creating harmonious and cohesive communities that help to change the conditions in which groups such as Boko Haram take root. Yet tonight we have heard even further cuts to our foreign aid program. Australia's ability to assist in creating positive change has been severely curtailed.

Despite this, there are important ways that we can highlight the plight of these young women and raise our consciousness of their situation around the world. One important way is to set down their names in the historical record to ensure their identities as individual women do not go unheard, so I will do that now. These girls are Blessing Abana, Yayi Abana, Deborah Abari, Deborah Abbas, Hauwa Abdu, Ilyi Abdu, Safiya Abdu, Sieker Abdul, Awa Abge, Deborah Abge, Kummai Aboku, Hamsatu Abubakar, Mairama Abubakar, Hasana Adamu, Naomi Adamu, Amina Ali, Asabe Ali, Mary Ali, Comfort Amos, Deborah Amos, Mary Amos, Rifkatu Amos, Ruth Amos, Saraya Amos, Esther Ayuba, Saratu Ayuba, Hauwa Balti, Awa Bitrus, Christiana Bitrus, Godiya Bitrus, Na'omi Bitrus, Rahila Bitrus, Ruth Bitrus, Nguba Buba, Maryamu Bulama, Abigail Bukar, Yana Bukar, Gloria Dama, Maifa Dama, Muwa Daniel, Talata Daniel, Filo Dauda, Mary Dauda, Saratu Dauda, Patiant Dzakawa, Saratu Emmanuel, Lydia Emmar, Monica, Enoch, Aishia Ezekial, Rifkatu Galang, Halima Gamba, Aishatu Grema, Comfort Habila, Lydia Habila, Liyatu Habitu, Febi Haruna, Tabitha Hyelampa, Ladi Ibrahim, Rahap Ibrahim, Hanatu Ishaku, Ruth Ishaku, Zara Ishaku, Hauwa Ishaya, Hauwe Isuwa, Awa James, Deborah Jafaru, Ladi Joel, EstherJohn, Jummai John, Laraba John, Rhoda John, Eli Joseph, Esther Joshua, Hauwa Joseph, Rebeca Joseph, Ruth Joshua, Yana Joshua, Rebeca Kabu, Ruth Kollo, Hauwa Kwakwi, Rakiya Kwamtah, Kauna Lalai, Aisha Lawan, Faita Lawan, Maryamu Lawan, Ruth Lawan, Kauna Luka, Na'omi Luka, Rebecca Luka, Gloria Mainta, Kabu Malla, Rebecca Mallum, Laraba Maman, Asabe Manu, Kwadugu Manu, Esther Markus, Saratu Markus, Aishatu Musa, Awagana Musa, Hanatu Musa, Hauwa Musa, Helen Musa, Maryamu Musa, Palmata Musa, Rejoice Musa, Saraya Musa, Hauwa Mutah, Kume Mutah, Lugwa Mutah, Ruth Ngladar, Hauwa Nkeki, Racheal Nkeki, Hanatu Nuhu, Pindar Nuhu, Grace Paul, Jummai Paul, Laraba Paul, Ladi Paul, Mary Paul, Saraya Paul, Deborah Peter, Hauwa Peter, Rhoda Peter, Naomi Philimon, Mwa Malam Pogu, Salomi Pogu, Tabitha Pogu, Yana Pogu, Luggwa Samuel, Saraya Samuel, Serah Samuel, Luggwa Sanda, Rejoice Sanki, Margret Shettima, Yanke Shittima, Tabitha Silas, Kwanta Simon, Lydia Simon, Deborah Soloman, Rifkatu Soloman, Liana Stephan, Mary Sule, Saraya Mal Stover, Fatima Tabji, Hauwa Takai, Hauwa Tella, Solomi Titus, Esther Usman, Maimuna Usman, Mary Usman, Ladi Wadai, Muli Waligam, Margret Watsai, Maryamu Wavi, Hauwa Wule, Glory Yaga, Mairama Yahaya, Christy Yahi, Anthonia Yahonna, Debora Yahonna, Larabe Yahonna, Mary Yahonna, Na'omi Yahonna, Rahila Yahanna, Dorcas Yakubu, Hadiza Yakubu, Juliana Yakubu, Mary Yakubu, Maryamu Yakubu, Rifkatu Yakubu, Suzana Yakubu, Jinkai Yama, Margret Yama, Saraya Yanga, Yana Yidau, Hauwa Yirma, and Naomi Zakaria.

Each of these young women has the full potential of their life before them and a future of empowerment and education, which both Nigeria and the international community owe to them. To do so, we must make sure that they are delivered safely back to their homes, their school and their families. Bring back our girls.

Senate adjourned at 23 : 34