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In coming weeks, I will outline in much more detail the initiatives that this Government will undertake; but today I want to speak briefly on the philosophy that my team will bring to government, and that is commonsense and compassion - a commonsense approach that puts management of our city first and politics last; and a compassionate approach that will show that we care about what Canberrans face every day of their lives and how this Assembly can help them. One of our first priorities will be to address the problems in our public hospital system. We all believe, and I suspect that everybody in this Assembly believes, that too many Canberrans are waiting longer and longer for necessary surgery. I am sure that all members of this Assembly believe that it is no longer good enough to spend more and get less. Unfortunately, the piecemeal reform of the past has not worked. What is required is fundamental change in the way we manage the system. Some tough decisions will need to be made, but the people of Canberra have signalled that it is time that these decisions were taken.

Whatever decisions this Assembly makes, they will be set against a background of reduced Commonwealth funding and increased pressure upon the ACT to live within its means. If we fail this challenge, we will place the future of our city at risk. The formulation of our first budget will be a priority. To this end, we want to work more closely with everyone in this Assembly to provide for a more open and consultative approach to budgeting. All of our reforms will require a cooperative approach, but I am confident that everybody here wants to have maximum input into the decision-making process that goes on in this place. Mr Speaker, you certainly will not see only four people involved in decision-making. We want everyone to be part of that.

I spoke earlier about the challenges that we face. These challenges also represent opportunities for innovation, for excellence and, importantly, for enthusiasm. If enthusiasm counts for anything - I am sure that it will - then my team is ready to get Canberra moving forward. We are ready to accept the challenge that the people of Canberra and the Assembly have laid before us. I want to thank the Assembly again for electing me as Chief Minister. I look forward to working with all members to represent every Canberran - not just the ones who voted for me, for the Labor Party or for the Independents, but every Canberran. My congratulations, too, go to you, Mr Cornwell, as our newly elected Speaker. Back in 1959, Edward Murrow wrote, “Difficulty is the excuse history never accepts”. The next three years in the life of the Assembly will be difficult; but I will not be looking for excuses, because I believe that we - not just the Liberal Party, but this whole Assembly - can make a difference.


MS FOLLETT: Mr Speaker, I seek leave of the Assembly to make a statement relating to the leadership of the Australian Labor Party.

Leave granted.

MS FOLLETT: Mr Speaker, I would like to inform the Assembly that the Australian Labor Party has chosen me as its leader.

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