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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 08 Hansard (Thursday, 16 August 2018) . . Page.. 3097 ..


We are here because almost 30 years ago the federal parliament created this Assembly and gave the people of our territory self-government. Federal parliament empowered our citizens and gave it a body like those that have existed for centuries to govern areas through democratic means. In doing so, they provided the territory with similar powers to those enjoyed by state parliaments, the successors of the original colonies. Our Assembly enjoyed these powers equally, if you like, until the middle of the 1990s.

In creating the Assembly and empowering it with similar powers to those of state parliaments, the federal parliament 30 years ago gave a clear statement that the people of the ACT were equal to other citizens across Australia and the people of Canberra were mature enough to have their own parliament and to elect members from their own community to decide matters on behalf of territorians. Thirty years on, we in this place have demonstrated that the decision by the federal parliament to grant self-government to the ACT was right, that Canberrans can govern themselves.

What we are asking for in this debate is for our rights to be restored, for a restriction that does not exist for state parliaments to be removed. We are asking for members of this place to be able to decide on all subjects, for Canberrans to be able to petition us on all matters and for us to be able to respond.

Canberra has matured since self-government to be a world-class city. We lead the nation in many areas, and are held out as a global exemplar in some of these. It is simply absurd for the federal government and those who are not from our community to restrict our rights on a matter that their own parliaments enjoy. It is time for the territory to have equality again.

MS BERRY (Ginninderra—Deputy Chief Minister, Minister for Education and Early Childhood Development, Minister for Housing and Suburban Development, Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence, Minister for Women and Minister for Sport and Recreation) (3.43): I am very grateful to the Chief Minister, Andrew Barr, for bringing this motion to the Assembly today. I want to say a few quick words on it, to put my thoughts and my views on this important issue forward in the Assembly today.

This is not the first time that the federal government has denied and interfered with the rights of the ACT community in making decisions around its own laws. I take members back to October 2013, when then Chief Minister Katy Gallagher was working hard with the Assembly to bring marriage equality into the ACT. Back then, the Chief Minister was about to do an interview on ABC radio when she received a call from George Brandis, who said that if we went ahead and introduced marriage equality in the ACT, they would take the ACT government to court.

On that decision around marriage equality, some people did not agree with it but many more supported it. At the time, Katy Gallagher stared him down and the ACT government went ahead. Ultimately we lost that case and marriage equality was delayed. Fast-forward a few years. Now, through the leadership of then Chief Minister Katy Gallagher and her deputy, now Chief Minister Andrew Barr, the whole country has marriage equality. The ACT government led the way in some good, socially


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