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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 1 Hansard (20 February) . . Page.. 1 ..

Tuesday, 20 February 1996

MR SPEAKER (Mr Cornwell) took the chair at 10.30 am and asked members to stand in silence and pray or reflect on their responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.


MR SPEAKER: Members, pursuant to the resolution of the Assembly of 27 March 1992 which authorises me to receive the written notice of resignation of a member, I wish to inform the Assembly that I have received a written notice of resignation from Mr Connolly dated 19 February 1996. Pursuant to subsection 13(3) of the Australian Capital Territory (Self-Government) Act 1988, I present the letter.

MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General): Mr Speaker, I seek leave to make a statement concerning Mr Connolly's resignation.

Leave granted.

MR HUMPHRIES: I thank members. I think it is appropriate for me to say a few words in the Assembly about Mr Connolly and his departure from the Assembly. The unfortunate thing about obituaries is that you do not get the chance - or very rarely anyway - to read your own. The good thing about voluntary retirement from politics is that, in a sense, you get a chance to do just that. I welcome the opportunity to say some things about Mr Connolly that perhaps it was not possible to say before his retirement.

There are 15 ex-MLAs. One is deceased. Fifteen persons have left the ACT Legislative Assembly since self-government. Of these, only four could be said to have chosen, in a completely voluntary way, the time of their own departure. Mr Connolly is the fourth, after Mr Whalan, Mr Westende and Mr Stevenson. The decision to choose to serve the community in the third arm of government - that is, the judiciary - after serving in the first and second arms, is typical of the strong sense of purpose he brought to his time here in the Legislative Assembly. He was elected to the Assembly in May 1990. He became shadow Attorney-General immediately on his election to the Assembly; and, just over a year later, he became Attorney-General. That was the one post he held throughout his next 31/2 years in government. He was initially also Minister for Urban Services and Minister for Housing and Community Services and later also Minister for Health.

However, there is a real sense in which Terry Connolly was a lawyer first and a politician second. I think that that fact is signified by the impressive agenda of law reform and legal innovation that he created during his time in politics. I think it is true to say - and this is a surprising observation in some ways - that the Territory's laws were surprisingly neglected and out of date before the Territory was granted self-government in 1989.

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