Jenny Leong MP brings the voices of the women of Newtown to the Parliament

Today Jenny gave a speech in the NSW parliament on some of the key issues for women in the
Newtown electorate based on the responses to a survey her office conducted on International Women's
Day in March.

You can read the transcript below:

"As Beyoncé says, "Who run the world? Girls." When we wrote to the amazing women of the Newtown electorate to ask about their priorities on International Women's Day the communication we received made it pretty clear that they are setting the agenda not just for our local community but also for the State. When I sit in this Chamber with 92 other elected representatives it is not hard to notice that only 27 of us are women. We might be in the majority in the near empty Chamber right now, but that is not usually the case. We said to the women of Newtown that just because there is not equality and equal representation here it does not mean we want the men to determine the priorities of this Parliament.

I asked my women constituents to tell us what they cared about and were passionate about. It is perhaps not a surprise that the number one issue on the agenda of the most progressive women in the country who are living in the electorate of Newtown is climate change.

Whether at one of our local ethical fashion shops in Newtown, at a community meeting in Petersham or Camperdown, a parents and citizens meeting in Surry Hills or Erskineville, an independent art or creative event in Chippendale or Stanmore, or at a local support service in Redfern or Enmore, active women are participating in events that contribute to climate change action and the protection of our environment.

When I go to an action of a local residents group to protect a local park or to stand up against local development, women are often standing at the front line. When I go to the Stop Adani protests or community meetings about the need to transition away from coal and move to renewable energy, I see women being part of those key campaigns. When I hear the concerns of women about the need to reduce waste, to reduce single‑use plastic bags and to address the environmental issues that are impacting on our local community, I hear those voices loud and strong.

Another issue that is clearly on the agenda of women in the electorate of Newtown and something I am personally passionate about is the issue of housing affordability. Time and again, we have seen successive governments in New South Wales fail to address the issue of the housing crisis because they refuse to recognise that housing is a human right, that it should come first and that the idea of housing as something that is designed to put profits into the pockets of big businesses is not okay. Housing needs to be recognised for what it is, and that is a universal human right that needs to be put first and foremost on the agenda.

Another issue that women spoke to us about was the issue of public transport. I have spoken to elderly women who rely on buses in the electorate of Newtown. They now have to traipse with their shopping bags—usually not plastic, because they are in the electorate of Newtown—to the next bus stop because the Minister for Transport and Infrastructure has closed the bus stop that was most convenient for them. I have seen people struggling on train station stairs with prams or other things because many train stations in the electorate of Newtown are not accessible.

These are big concerns. We need this Government to listen to the priorities of women in the electorate of Newtown when they say that they want public transport that is safe, accessible and affordable. It is clear that people who live in the electorate of Newtown do not just focus on issues that are local to them. Big issues like stopping the Adani coalmine, taking action on climate change, standing up for refugees, defending workers' rights and the right to strike are all things that we heard when we asked women what they were concerned about and what they wanted us to set as their priorities.

I will take a moment to shout out to a few special women in the electorate of Newtown. Some of those are women who go unnoticed on many occasions because they are the people in my electorate who engage with the Inner West Mums Facebook group. As a relatively new mum, I have relied on that group for late-night tips and advice when I was not sure what to do. As I left my house this morning with one hand around my daughter, the other hand holding my bag, the other hand that I wish I had trying to lock the door, and yet another hand I wish I had trying to pick up the outfit I am now wearing—because I did not have time to get dressed properly before heading to day care—while I was trying to do all those things, I felt for the mums of the inner west. I know that I am not alone in my logistical struggle to do what I need to do before I get to work in the morning. I pay credit to the inner west mums for all the things that they do. I promise to put women's rights and women's priorities on the agenda in this House."


Link to Hansard

Sign up for updates