Alister Henskens portrait
Alister Henskens portrait

International Women's Day

International Women's Day Logo

Mr ALISTER HENSKENS (Ku-ring-gai) [7.25 p.m.], by leave: I take this opportunity to speak on International Women's Day 2016 and to acknowledge the strong women in my life and their great achievements. The first feminist I came to know was my mother. She was a graduate of Newcastle Girls High School and Pymble Ladies College, which is in my electorate. She became a laboratory assistant after she finished high school. When she travelled to England she had the great opportunity to work for Eveready. She was the only woman to work in the laboratory at Eveready at that time. That was a very formative experience for her, being a woman working in a man's world. But she did so with great confidence—namely, the confidence she gained through her education in Australia.

I digress for a moment to acknowledge the 100th anniversary of Pymble Ladies College where my mother went to school immediately after the Second World War. She attended the college in 1947 and 1948. The school was formed 100 years ago almost to this day. It was formed during the Great War as a commitment to the education of young women at a time of great shortage in our country. That represents the sort of foresight that we encourage on International Women's Day—the foresight to make a very strong statement that women ought to be given equal opportunities to men. The ethos of that school started 100 years ago was that women could do anything that men could do. It has a very strong tradition of educating women who go on to tertiary education to compete equally with men.

I will briefly acknowledge some of the other significant women in my life. Both of my two sisters have had very successful careers in middle management—one in the insurance industry and the other in the Commonwealth public service. My wife graduated with first class honours in history and is a university medallist from the University of Dalhousie, Canada. We met at the University of Toronto when she was studying her Master of Museums Studies and then she came to Australia with me, where she completed her PhD and has forged a very impressive career as an academic. Lastly, I acknowledge my daughter who will turn 18 this month. She is studying for the Higher School Certificate. She is a confident and wonderful young woman. I am so happy that she has great opportunities as a woman. I acknowledge International Women's Day.