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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 03 Hansard (Wednesday, 31 March 2021) . . Page.. 688 ..


MR BARR (Kurrajong—Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Climate Action, Minister for Economic Development and Minister for Tourism) (11.29): I want to take the opportunity this morning to thank Minister Cheyne, Mr Rattenbury and the Leader of the Opposition for bringing forward this motion today. It is fair to say that it is rather unusual that three MLAs from three different parties have co-sponsored a motion in the Assembly. It happens occasionally, and it is good to see. The fact that we have had this collaboration across parties today highlights the significance of this issue for ACT residents. Indeed, I want to acknowledge the significance of it for Northern Territory residents as well.

I want to thank Minister Cheyne for her leadership and her continued passionate advocacy on this issue, both as a special secretary to me as Chief Minister in the previous Assembly and now as Minister for Human Rights.

Today, as the motion indicates, is an opportunity for the leaders of all three parties, and indeed any member of the Assembly, to continue to advocate to members and senators in the federal parliament to prioritise the restoration of territory rights. Previous speakers have highlighted the history of how we are where we are now, and the various attempts over the last several decades to see change.

That change will come, but it will come quicker if we can unite in this chamber, together with our friends and colleagues in the Northern Territory parliament and our friends and colleagues in the states who support our democratic rights. This inevitable change will come quicker as a result of actions like those today. I want to thank and acknowledge everyone who will participate in this debate and acknowledge the leadership that will be necessary across all political parties.

Ms Lee highlighted that some Labor senators did not vote in favour of the Leyonhjelm bill. That was disappointing. I can say that it was not through lack of effort from Ms Cheyne and I, in terms of engagement with them. We got a high level of support from our federal Labor colleagues, but not enough. Yes, we need to shift the dial and get some more Labor senators and Labor House of Representatives members voting for this change, but we will not get there in the current parliament without some support from Liberal, National and independent members as well. We have a collective responsibility on behalf of our constituents.

Some of us will be better placed than others to lobby particular colleagues and members in different parties, but it will require a collective effort. That is how marriage equality was achieved in this country—a collective effort across parties. And we got there; but a lot of people thought we would not. I have the same confidence on this issue.

I make the observation that there is a clear distinction between territory rights and your personal position on voluntary assisted dying. Regardless of your personal view on voluntary assisted dying, everyone in this place, I believe, should be able to represent their constituents on issues that matter to them and that are appropriately within the constitutional responsibilities of subnational governments. Voluntary assisted dying is clearly such an issue.


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