Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 03 Hansard (Wednesday, 31 March 2021) . . Page.. 691 ..
the voters of this city, for the values that the people of this city share and for the democratically elected legislature, who, in an overwhelming majority, supported that policy change, and were unable to enact the hopes and ambitions of its electorate into law.
To see that come up again on a completely new area of public policy, where once again Canberra voters are treated as second-class, where once again the 70,424 people I represent are treated as second-class, their vote not as valuable, is frankly an embarrassment for the federal parliament. It is so disappointing that once again we have to rally just to say Canberrans are equal; just to say their vote is the same.
In closing, while my position and the position of my political party is on record, and we are proud to have been long-term supporters of legislative reform that sees people being able to make respected end of life choices with humanity and with dignity, this rises above even that. Just imagine for a moment—and I implore all of our shared constituency to imagine for just a moment—if the federal government and the federal parliament at large thought it could come into our streets and suburbs and tell us where we could build a school, what potholes we could and could not fill, what nature strips we would be allowed to mow and not mow. Naturally, uproar would ensue throughout our community.
This is a broader issue than that. This is an issue of fundamental democracy, of whether or not the people of Tuggeranong, Woden, Weston Creek, Belconnen, Gungahlin, and the latte-sipping inner north, Ms Vassarotti, are equally respected, are equally represented and are equally defended by their parliamentary representatives in federal parliament. I commend the motion, and I am proud to support it.
MS CHEYNE (Ginninderra—Assistant Minister for Economic Development, Minister for the Arts, Minister for Business and Better Regulation, Minister for Human Rights and Minister for Multicultural Affairs) (11.44), in reply: I thank all members for their contributions to the debate on this critically important motion today, a motion that I believe is the first of its kind, on this issue at least, to be sponsored by all three parties, and that will, all going well, pass unanimously.
This is a collective responsibility. Collective work is needed from us here in standing up for the rights of our citizens, their democratic rights and their human rights. And from the federal parliament, too—from the federal parliament, especially. So there is something special, a strength, in that all parties here are united in our ask of all of parliament to unite with us to change this untenable situation, this needless situation and this senseless situation. While ever it continues, all it does is cause more harm. We are not second-class citizens, so we should not be treated as such.
In conferring self-government on us and on the Northern Territory, the commonwealth gave us powers—gave us a whole suite of things that we could legislate on; then they decided to take some away in, as Mr Rattenbury described, a panic. It was wrong then and it is wrong now. It has to change. We implore them to show some leadership. It will cost nothing to remove these provisions from our self-government act; not a cent. But it will mean so much to the lives of Canberra