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MR HIRD (4.47): Mr Speaker, I ask for leave to move a motion regarding the principles of government in the Australian Capital Territory.

Leave granted.

MR HIRD: Mr Speaker, I move:

That this Assembly endorses the principles of responsible and stable government in the Australian Capital Territory.

MR SPEAKER: Members, this debate obviously will involve the inaugural speeches of, I trust, all five new members of this Assembly. It has been a tradition that these speeches are heard in silence. I would therefore ask the Assembly, nay, I would expect the Assembly, to so honour that tradition in relation to these five members.

MR HIRD: Mr Speaker, I left the Assembly on 30 June in 1986 as the then Speaker of the House of Assembly after serving my community for 12 years as the then Independent member for the electorate of Fraser. During those years I was, and I still am, a firm believer that I was elected to serve the people of my electorate and this Territory to the best of my ability. My door always has been, and will continue to be, open to the concerned citizens of my electorate and the needs of the people of the Territory.

We, as the elected representatives of the people of the Territory, however, should not forget our history. When the Territory gained representation in the form of the Advisory Council, later to become the Legislative Assembly, in 1974, the then Minister for Territories, the Hon. Gordon Bryant, said, “This is the first step towards a self-governing body of elected representatives for the ACT”. The Territory was, as we all know, built to provide the seat of government for the Federal Parliament and the government departments that are vital to the running of this nation.

When the architect, Walter Burley Griffin, designed this city he envisaged that it would have a population of approximately 26,000 people by the turn of this century. This is now wrong, as we have a population of over 300,000 and we are still growing at a steady rate. We, as the elected representatives of this Territory, need to be conscious of this important factor if we are to make the right decisions in relation to the needs and wants of the people of the ACT and the surrounding communities of the south-east region of New South Wales. Yes, that is right. We have to be conscious not only of the welfare of the Territory but of the region as a whole because the facilities of the Territory are most definitely patronised by people across the border in such places as Queanbeyan and other communities further away. I just hope that when the helicopter that was generously and, I must add, unexpectedly donated by Mr Dick Smith arrives it is given the full support of all members of this parliament. I also hope that Canberra businesses and surrounding councils will not renege on their pledge of financial support for this essential regional service.

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