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Thursday, 3 May 1973
Page: 1647

Mr WHAN (EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I direct my question to the Minister for the Capital Territory. Has his attention been drawn to the tent which has been erected on the lawns outside Parliament House and which carries 2 signs, one being Women's Embassy' and the other 'Abortion Law Reform'? Has the Minister received any complaints about the presence of the tent? Is the Minister considering taking any action?

Mr ENDERBY (Minister for the Northern Territory) - No, I have not received any complaints. The few comments I have heard have been very favourable. It is significant to note that the tent that has been erected bears a sign declaring it to be a women's embassy. The House will remember the last embassy on the lawns - the Aboriginal embassy - which was so brutally dispersed by this Opposition when its members were in power. I suppose I can add as part of my answer that personally I am glad that they are not in power now - otherwise the women's embassy would probably be dispersed in like manner. There is some significance, I suppose, in the decision of the ladies to be there and to spend last night there in a temperature that fell to about 8 degrees Celsius, together with a lot of rain. A 75-year-old lady whom I know was there at half-past 8 this morning. These are the significant factors. May I add that there is significance in their choice of a women's embassy because there is oppression against women in this community. Women who are aware of social issues like the abortion issue and who know that this issue and other issues that fundamentally concern them are going to be decided in this House of men do feel oppressed. Women who are aware of social issues and who like to think that they should be treated with full civilian rights and have opportunities available to them in much the same way as you gentlemen have opportunities available to you feel oppressed and discriminated against. There is considerable significance in this. Finally, I have no intention of taking any action.

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