Some members of Parliament who never make it to the Cabinet room have made more difference, arguably, than many Cabinet ministers who are quickly forgotten after their time in Parliament.
Cases in point: Louisa Wall and Georgina Beyer. Both have championed women’s rights, LGBTQI rights and social inclusion.
Louisa is most famously known for introducing, and seeing through, a new law to allow same-sex marriage. New Zealand became the 13th nation to do so and, since then, same sex couples in New Zealand have been able to adopt children jointly.
At the time, Louisa likened the passing of the bill to winning a rugby World Cup final. She should know — she was a double cap for New Zealand in netball as a Silver Fern, and rugby, in the country’s first world-cup winning women’s Black Ferns team.
She has also been an outspoken advocate for human rights globally, including the case of the Uyghur people of Xinjiang in China, and shining a light on illegal organ transplant tourism.
I have known Georgina for more than 20 years. I interviewed her early in my journalism days, for her work supporting the decriminalisation of prostitution. More recently, she supported many of the events I organised at Parliament as cochair of the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians — a group that promotes women’s legislative leadership.
At various times I have reached out to each of these wahine toa, asking them to speak at the iconic Dame Dorothy Fraser Lecture Series — but the timing hasn’t worked.
Georgie wanted to wait until the risk of Covid no longer threatened her compromised immunity — perhaps in 2023. Sadly, that wasn’t to be, and her passing this month means we will never have that opportunity.
However this year we are in luck. I’m looking forward to hearing Louisa Wall’s story when we chat next Tuesday evening at the EFKS Hall in South Dunedin for the 11th Dame Dorothy Fraser Lecture.
The lecture series was started in 2012 by my predecessor, the then MP for Dunedin South (now Taieri), Clare Curran.
Although the format has changed from a formal lecture to a ‘‘fireside chat’’, the series continues the strong tradition of honouring the late Dame Dorothy Fraser by highlighting the achievements of New Zealand women, and remembering their contributions.
Dame Dorothy was the youngest person to join the New Zealand Labour Party, and was a well-known community figure who gave so much back to the Dunedin South community in her various governance roles.
Previous speakers include former Prime Minister Helen Clark, Council of Trade Unions president Helen Kelly and sexual abuse campaigner Louise Nicholas.
Tickets are available online, by phoning 027 330-6474, or by emailing events@[email protected]