minister dodges questions on out of touch white ribbon jetski parade

This year's White Ribbon Day was tarnished with a tasteless jet ski parade in Sydney Harbour. 

With domestic and family violence services drastically underfunded White Ribbon Day should be a day to advocate for expanding and improving those services. 

In parliament, Abigail asked the Minister for Women's Safety and the Prevention of Domestic and Sexual Violence what this frankly offensive spectacle was meant to achieve. 

Ms ABIGAIL BOYD (12:12): My question is directed to the Minister for Women's Safety and the Prevention of Domestic and Sexual Violence. Today it was revealed that the jetski parade to mark Friday's White Ribbon Day, which has been widely criticised and described by many domestic violence advocates as offensive, is not actually being driven by White Ribbon Australia but instead was organised by the New South Wales Government. How much money is the Government spending on this tone-deaf and pointless stunt that could instead have been given directly to underfunded domestic and family violence services to help women and children fleeing violence across the State?

The Hon. NATALIE WARD (Minister for Metropolitan Roads, and Minister for Women's Safety and the Prevention of Domestic and Sexual Violence) (12:13): I am surprised at this question. The fact is that zero dollars are being provided by the New South Wales Government. These are volunteers at a fantastic event raising awareness of women's safety and the prevention of domestic and family violence. It is a magnificent event that has been conducted in Brisbane and here in Sydney. It was successful last year. Not only is it not costing us anything, but the volunteers who are out there—the SES and the other volunteers who are raising awareness on our beautiful harbour—are actually fundraising for the cause. They are not only raising awareness with their fantastic initiative.

I welcome working with anyone who wants to raise awareness of this issue and put women's safety and the protection of women and children at the centre of what they do. It is fantastic work. I am pleased that the work is continuing, because it backs in this Government's record investment—

The PRESIDENT: Order! The Minister has the call.

The Hon. NATALIE WARD: This is an initiative that raises awareness of a critical issue that this Government has prioritised. It is a Premier's priority.

The Hon. Rose Jackson: They don't need awareness; they need housing.

The PRESIDENT: I call the Hon. Rose Jackson to order for the first time. The Minister has the call.

The Hon. NATALIE WARD: The honourable member has asked for housing. This is a government that has put record funding in place. Almost half a billion dollars has gone to the core and cluster program to almost double the number of women's refuges in New South Wales. That is the Government's answer to housing. We have an answer in terms of legislation. We have core and cluster funding and the Safer Pathway program in place. We have a comprehensive response and a dedicated Minister who will back in opportunities to raise awareness in this place.

The display on Sydney Harbour will spark important conversations to help end the silence and the stigma surrounding violence and harassment. A flotilla of jetskis will come together in a ribbon formation under the Sydney Harbour Bridge to say no to violence against women and children. On Australia's most iconic waterway, the jetski display puts violence prevention front and centre. I will support any initiative that ensures we raise awareness and inspire people to take action and make change at every level. This is a government that will back that in. It does the hard yards, not only with funding but with legislation. I will always be supportive of the organisations that support us in what we do to raise awareness about women's safety.

I am pleased to be part of a government that has this as an absolute priority. I am pleased that we have put record funding and legislative change in place. Today we have seen the passage of the coercive control legislation. That is game-changing, historic legislation to ensure that the pattern of behaviour that robs women of their autonomy is addressed. I am pleased that this Government has the difficult conversations and is not afraid to address very difficult issues. It will continue to do so. It will continue to make record investment in women's safety and it will continue to have a dedicated Minister. So long as this is a problem in our community, Government members will be the ones addressing it.

Ms ABIGAIL BOYD (12:16): I ask a supplementary question. Will the Minister elucidate her answer by clarifying whether the ludicrous, tone-deaf flotilla of jetskis was, in fact, her idea?

The Hon. NATALIE WARD (Minister for Metropolitan Roads, and Minister for Women's Safety and the Prevention of Domestic and Sexual Violence) (12:17): I find it offensive that someone in this place can say that an initiative that will raise awareness of women's safety and the prevention of domestic and family violence is a ludicrous idea. The Government has heard from the sector that more needs to be done. We know that we need to raise awareness of this issue.

The PRESIDENT: Order! The Minister has the call.

The Hon. NATALIE WARD: Not only is the event raising awareness, it is also raising funds for the cause. It is actually raising money. Volunteers are getting out there—

The Hon. Scott Farlow: Point of order: Some members have been called to order repeatedly, but they are flouting your rulings and calls for restraint. I ask that you put the members on a call.

The PRESIDENT: I warn members on my left that order will be enforced as we move along. The Minister has the call.

The Hon. NATALIE WARD: I am pleased to be part of a government that prioritises this work and that ensured consent legislation introduced last year by the Attorney General was backed in by the House. The Government has put coercive control legislation in place. We will do whatever we can to support frontline services and the women and families who face this problem every single day. So long as I can do whatever I possibly can to raise awareness and support organisations that want to do so—

Ms Abigail Boyd: Point of order: The question was very direct. I asked whether or not it was the Minister's idea. The Minister is not being directly relevant to the question.

The PRESIDENT: The Minister will be directly relevant to the question asked.

The Hon. NATALIE WARD: I do have lots of good ideas, but unfortunately they do not often extend to great initiatives like this one. I absolutely back the idea. I inform the House that I am advised that Roads and Maritime Services in New South Wales was approached by its counterpart in Brisbane. Brisbane held a similar event last year and will be holding another event at the same time as this one. I wish them well. I hope they raise a lot of funds and get a lot of coverage—and that the Government gets lots more questions to raise awareness about it.

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