MS PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) (14:36:24): I rise to speak to Mr Bourman’s motion that effectively says that we allow suitable people to obtain and use items designed for non-lethal self-defence in the wake of a number of random attacks on women. The victims of the four most recent attacks we are talking about—Jill Meagher, Eurydice Dixon, Aiia Maasarwe and Masa Vukotic—all died in Northern Metropolitan Region, so these are my constituents that we are talking about. Can I tell you that when I went to the silent memorial for Eurydice, when I went to the march for Jill, when I sat on these steps for Aiia, no-one said, ‘Can we have some mace spray?’. No-one said, ‘We need tasers’. No-one said, ‘We need guns’. They said, ‘We need to stop the violence’. They did not say, ‘We need to defend ourselves’. If this proposed inquiry was actually about how we stop violence, then I would be the first to sign up for it, but I do not accept that women somehow have to take responsibility when they are walking through Princes Park, which is 150 metres from my home, and that we have to carry weapons to walk through that park, and I do not accept that we should accept that, so I cannot support this motion. I also raise the fact that this is not this first time we have had this motion before a parliament. In fact Fraser Anning raised it last year, and I think we just finished a defamation case between Senator Leyonhjelm and Senator Hanson-Young on this exact motion. Senator Hanson-Young called out Senator Leyonhjelm and said, ‘No. Just stop women from getting killed. Don’t say that women have to protect themselves and that women are somehow responsible for the violence that is perpetrated against them’. The Liberal Democrats raised almost the exact same motion in Western Australia just recently. Again, it was voted down. So parliaments around Australia have debated this, we have discussed this and we have said, ‘Actually, more weapons in our society is not the answer. Less violence in our society is the answer. Changing the mindset that causes people to feel they have permission to rape women, to sexually assault women, that is what we need to change’. My heart bleeds and I am still on the verge of tears when I think about Eurydice, Jill, Aiia and Masa. I know that they are but a tiny, tiny percentage of women who are assaulted and killed, because most of it happens in women’s living rooms, in their bedrooms, in their homes. That is where women are killed in Victoria. Now, are we supposed to keep mace and tasers in our bedrooms? Is that the answer to stop our husbands, our brothers, our uncles from killing us? Is that what we are supposed to do? No. What we as society must do is change the attitude. I commend this government and I commend previous governments for working on this and looking at how we can change this. There was the Betrayal of Trust inquiry held during the previous Liberal government and the Royal Commission into Family Violence held during the last government. There was the wonderful work that Fiona Richardson did and will always be remembered for. That is what we have got to be doing. We have got to be saying no to violence, not yes to tasers, not yes to mace, not yes, women should be more fearful or suggest that women have to carry mace on their way home from work. I walked home from work last night. Thankfully I actually did feel quite safe, and I do feel safe. I certainly am alert. I do not necessarily put headphones in. I will walk in a well-lit street. I will do those things, and it annoys me that I have to. It annoys me that I cannot walk down the much nicer street that is a block down that has more trees on it, but I will walk on the main street. But asking me to carry a weapon is not what I want this Parliament to do. I want this Parliament to change our young men, to change our society so that no man—or woman for that matter—feels that violence is the answer or feels that they have permission to attack someone. This is something that is discussed around the world. In Canada recently they were discussing it. I think the National Rifle Association runs ‘fabulous firearms for women’ programs. We know that more women are killed by guns than have ever killed anyone by gun. I know Mr Bourman is not talking about guns, and I accept that fact, but when we look at saying that women should have weapons to defend themselves, my sense is that if I was carrying a weapon to defend myself, being all of 5 foot 4 inches tall, I suspect that that weapon may well be used against me, and I would rather use my wit and my senses to do this. The other thing I think we should also recognise is that, despite what the Herald Sun tells us, crime is actually in decline. There are actually less violent crimes in Victoria today than there were. There was actually a recent survey—and this is an interesting one because this is not looking at police; this is actually looking at victims—asking, ‘Have you been a victim of crime?’. We know that sexual assault crimes are so under-reported. Most people do not report a sexual assault crime. Yet that survey found that crime had gone down, and this was asking people, ‘Have you been a victim of crime?’. I actually think those are very interesting statistics when you look at those. I will finish there, because I would like to hear other people’s thoughts on this. I do not support this. I support Mr Bourman’s tenet that he wants us to be safe, and I appreciate that. I understand that this is coming from a good place, but from my position we do not need more weapons in our society; we need better attitudes.
Reference to Legal and Social Issues Committee
by Fiona Patten / Wednesday, 20 February 2019 / Published in
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