Madam Speaker, I thank the Assembly very much for the very great opportunity and privilege of being able to serve this community as Chief Minister for the next four years.
Today I stand before you to commit wholeheartedly to serving the Canberra community to the best of my capacity. I similarly commit each and every member of the Labor Caucus to the same work.
Madam Speaker, may I start by congratulating you on your appointment. The role of Speaker is as crucial to good, civilised and democratic governance as any of the titles and roles bestowed in this Assembly and I wish you all the best in what can be a challenging job and I can assure you that the Government will assist you where we can in ensuring your task is as smooth as possible.
I also congratulate and welcome the newcomers to the corridors of the ACT Legislative Assembly – Yvette Berry, Guilia Jones and Andrew Wall. Representing your community as an MLA is a great honour and I know that you will carry the title with as much pride as those have come before you.
Congratulations also to the significant number of MLAS who have experienced life as an MLA and who have come back for more – including Mick Gentleman, who rejoins us as a much-valued member of the Labor Caucus.
I would like to acknowledge and congratulate Mr Seselja and his liberal colleagues on their election result. It has been a long and at times a bitter campaign and whilst I did not agree with elements of your campaign you have been a fierce opponent throughout.
To Mr Rattenbury, representing the almost 24,000 Canberrans who voted green – Hare Clark throws up unusual results at times and despite the ACT Greens losing 3 seats – the 2012 election campaign actually delivered the 2nd highest green vote in a Territory election.
Mr Rattenbury I thank you for placing your trust in me as Chief Minister. I shall honour the agreement struck last week, our shared policy agenda and I enter the new Cabinet landscape with a positive attitude and a genuine belief that it will provide stable and responsive government to the people of the ACT over the next four years.
I’d also like to make brief mention of Ms Meredith Hunter, Ms Amanda Bresnan and Ms Caroline Le Couteur, who sat on the cross-bench during the 7th Assembly but who were not fortunate enough to retain their seats in the 8th.
Ms Hunter showed great leadership on the cross-bench over the course of the last Assembly. I believe all three leave behind a proud legacy in terms of policy and legislation and I wish them all the best for their future endeavours.
Madam Speaker, the Canberra community have elected a parliament where the numbers are 8-8-1. It’s over to us now to make that parliament work.
It’s important as we begin the 8th Assembly that we acknowledge that we all start from the same point.
We are all here because each of us individually loves this city, because we are all contributors, because we all want to make the city a better place to live, because we are parents who want our children to have the brightest future possible, because we are sons and daughters who want our parents cared for in their elder years and because we want to shape our city’s future.
Now while there are many aspects of our system of governance that are undoubtedly adversarial, there are also many occasions when we come together in a spirit of compromise and collaboration, times when our ideas can combine, rather than compete. I believe there should be more of those times.
Whilst precedence and history provide important guidance in politics and parliamentary life, we are as much masters of our own future as any parliamentarian that has gone before us, and we have as much responsibility as anyone to shape modern day politics to reflect what the community seeks from us.
The community are tired of politicians fighting when they want us to lead; they are tired of finger pointing when they simply want us to represent the community and to get the job done as efficiently and effectively as possible.
Madam Speaker, to many in our community it matters less as to whether you are Labor, liberal or green than it does about good schools, good hospitals, a good transport system and footpaths, parks and playgrounds for all to enjoy. And it is delivering these outcomes over the next four years that should keep us focused and occupy the majority of our time.
With this in mind I think we should look at every way for all 17 members to work together and for the leaders to collaborate more in the interest of our city, even if that means doing things differently to how it’s been done in the past. Today I extend the offer to Mr Seselja and Mr Rattenbury to explore how that could work in practice.
I also live in hope that the Assembly will be able, during this term to reach agreement on an expanded size, commensurate with our population growth and with the responsibilities bestowed upon us.
No longer can we avoid this debate. The people of the ACT want good government and to ensure we keep delivering that the Assembly must grow.
In recent months I have spoken at length and in detail about my vision for our city and I do genuinely believe that our future is a bright and prosperous one.
At its core the Labor vision is to set this city free from some of the constraints of the past, to allow us to fulfil our destiny as a city-state that is less dependent on the whims of the Commonwealth, and on Commonwealth spending decisions.
It’s a vision that will see us cement ourselves as the natural economic and service heart of the south-east region.
It’s a vision that will achieve these things by leveraging on our strengths, and by seeking and exploiting the connections between education, health and the jobs of the future.
This vision, expressed in part through the new Parliamentary Agreement, will have us move forward with a light rail network; pursue active and sustainable transport solutions; further action on climate change; fair and equitable funding of education for all ACT students; taxation reforms; the provision of services to disadvantaged and vulnerable Canberrans; and a desire to deliver high quality and sustainable local government services across the community.
Madam Speaker I am proud to have led a Labor team back into government at this point in the national political cycle and to have managed to secure a swing towards us, the first state Labor government to have achieved that since March 2007.
Can I thank all the voters of Canberra, those who voted for us and those that didn’t. A Chief Ministers job is to represent the entire community and I will work hard to do that.
Canberrans know I have never been one for hubris, and I can assure every member of the community that Labor will be listening hard to the verdict from October 20th, and heeding the messages – both positive and negative.
I would like to thank the voters of Molonglo who have placed so much trust in me and my leadership. As a person who has lived my whole life in the electorate of Molonglo I value that endorsement and there really is no greater honour than being elected to represent your own home constituency.
Madam Speaker, I would also like to place on record my thanks and appreciation for the hard work of all the candidates and volunteers who participated in the 2012 ACT election. Without that willingness to be a part of the process, our democracy could not function.
I would also like to thank the Electoral Commissioner, Phil Green, Elections ACT for a smoothly run and inclusive campaign, and also to thank all the Assembly staff for maintaining a semblance of order and normality in this place over recent months – it’s a strange workplace at the best of times and election time just adds another layer to that complexity.
I thank all members of the ACT Labor team, in particular Mr Elias Hallaj and the staff, candidates and volunteers, for their hard work on the Labor campaign.
I also thank & acknowledge the work and leadership of the Deputy Chief Minister, Andrew Barr, and all of my Caucus colleagues, for their support and for their hard work over the past 4 years, in developing the policies we took to the election and the effort that went into the campaign.
Lastly, Madam Speaker, an indulgence just briefly to thank my family. Politics is a bruising business and none of us could do it without the support offered to us in our private lives – To David, to my children, my sister and brothers, my extended family and friends –as we near the end of 2012, one thing is for certain – I can confirm that it takes a village to raise a child or 3 and I thank all those villagers for their help, their unending love and their deep belief in me and what I could achieve.