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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 01 Hansard (Thursday, 3 December 2020) . . Page.. 196 ..


MS LEE (Kurrajong—Leader of the Opposition) (4.27): Joy to the world. It is a line from a traditional Christmas carol and it seems a bit odd to use it and your name, Madam Speaker, but I do so now because I think that we could all use a little more joy in the world and I do not want this to be another speech about the unprecedented or challenging year we have had. We have heard it all and I have certainly used those terms myself ad nauseam.

So I want to focus this year’s valedictory speech on some good stuff that happened in 2020. We have already heard about some good things happening around the world: lockdowns demonstrating just how much our teachers should be valued and respected, how people have stepped up to be there for their elderly neighbours who have been cut off from regular visits from their family, how local and small businesses have evolved and innovated to make sure that everyone has access to the goods and services they need.

But I want to tell a story that is much closer to home. “A” is an elderly Canberran, a fiercely independent woman who lives alone and still wears high heels whenever she goes out. Unfortunately, she broke a bone this year and was forced into hospital, then into respite. “P” and “J”, who are also well into their years themselves, stepped up to support her, taking her to and from doctors’ appointments, making sure her groceries were stocked up and making sure that she had company. This went on for a number of weeks, and whilst A has now recovered from her injury I know that P and J’s generosity and A’s gratitude will last a lifetime—small acts of kindness and thoughtfulness that in 2020 have gone a long way.

Whilst 2020 did not deliver us the election result we wanted and worked so hard for, I am so grateful to welcome Leanne and Peter to the Canberra Liberals parliamentary team. I think, from what we heard yesterday during their inaugural speeches, that both the chick from Charny and the teacher who grew up to be a lawyer bring so much depth, colour and huge diversity of life experiences to the Assembly. I know they will both make an enormous contribution to the Canberra Liberals and to Canberra and I cannot wait to see them grow as parliamentarians. I of course also congratulate the other new members of this place.

Even closer to home, whilst the early stages of COVID were difficult, juggling working mostly from home with child care and a partner suddenly working 12-hour days, six days a week, I was so thankful for the opportunity to spend more time with my daughter, Mia. It being an election year, I had, with great regret, almost accepted the reality that I would miss a big chunk of Mia’s first year. The silver lining in the early stages of the pandemic was the chance to be there up close to see how beautifully she is growing. 2020 is the year that she started school, as we call her early learning centre. 2020 is the year that she took her first steps. And 2020 is the year that she saw her mother make history and become the first Asian-Australian leader of a major party.

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