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MRS CARNELL (Chief Minister): I seek leave to make a statement.

Leave granted.

MRS CARNELL: Mr Speaker, I would like to thank the Assembly for its vote of confidence in electing me as the new Chief Minister for the Australian Capital Territory. I must admit that it is a great honour - and I am still shaking. I also welcome and congratulate the five new members of the Assembly - Harold Hird, Lucy Horodny, Paul Osborne, Kerrie Tucker and Andrew Whitecross, in alphabetical order. I am sure that all of you, together with the 12 members who have continued on, will represent the people of Canberra and their wishes to the very best of your abilities. It would be remiss of me not to take this opportunity to acknowledge those members of the Second Assembly who were not re-elected or who decided not to stand again - Annette Ellis, Ellnor Grassby, David Lamont, Dennis Stevenson, Helen Szuty and Lou Westende. All of them have helped to improve our city and the quality of life enjoyed by its residents.

Mr Speaker - and it is with pleasure that I say that - when I first entered politics, just over three years ago, I never imagined that I would be in this position today. My surprise, however, is tempered by my and my colleagues’ enthusiasm for the task ahead. On 18 February the people of Canberra voted for change, and that change has presented my team with the chance to take us in a new direction. The changes we plan to make will bring a new, fresh approach to the management of our city and our Assembly. We want to create an open, modest, local government which is accessible to the community and more city council-like in nature. That was the commitment we made to the electorate, and that is the commitment I make again today.

The challenges that now confront us are exciting, but they are also daunting. They are challenges for every member who is interested in making this Assembly more relevant to those it represents. Canberrans have had nearly six years to assess how well the current executive system of law-making and government has performed. We believe that it can be improved, and so does the community. In the next three years we hope to create a government that is more responsive, consultative, honest, hardworking and efficient and to provide a model of open government that will serve as an example to other States. Reforms such as strengthening the role of Assembly committees and encouraging a much freer flow of information between government agencies and all MLAs - and I stress “all MLAs” - will help to foster this more open approach. It is our belief that the primary tasks of the Assembly are to ensure that the most effective and efficient use is made of taxpayers’ money, for the better management of Canberra and to help those who most need that help.

This should not be a purely political forum; nor should the success of the Assembly be judged merely on how much legislation it passes or debates. We believe that the Assembly should spend more of its time focusing on identifying and solving community issues and problems than debating legal technicalities, although those things as well can be very important. I hope that this is the measure by which we are all judged, rather than by the volume of the laws that are enacted.

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