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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 1 Hansard (19 March) . . Page.. 10 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

Mr Speaker, that is the Labor Party's commitment to the Assembly. It is my commitment as Opposition Leader. The Labor Party wants to go forward. We will learn from but put behind us the disappointment of the recent election. We will put behind us our dismay at the unfair and offensively personal treatment aimed by the Liberal Party at Wayne Berry and, through him, at the Labor Party. Labor wants to work with others in the Assembly to achieve constructive and productive outcomes for all Canberrans, to help them realise their aspirations and enjoy the security and wellbeing they once took for granted and today have no less a right to expect.

Mr Speaker, it would be remiss of me to let the occasion pass without making reference to some other notable events. First, I congratulate you on your election as Speaker. We look forward to your impartiality and fairness in conducting your duties in this chamber and in the management of the Assembly. I can assure you that you will receive the full support of Labor members on that basis. On my behalf and that of my Labor colleagues, I congratulate Ms Carnell on her re-election as Chief Minister. I congratulate all members on their election and extend a particular welcome to the new members - Dave Rugendyke, Brendan Smyth and my Labor colleagues Ted Quinlan and John Hargreaves.

We have also witnessed the departure of several members who have all worked hard for their constituents and for Canberra. On behalf of the Labor Party, I extend best wishes to Louise Littlewood and Lucy Horodny. In particular, I regretfully note the departure of several members of Labor's Caucus - Andrew Whitecross, Marion Reilly and Roberta McRae - each of whom worked very hard for the Labor Party, their constituents and the Canberra community. The departure of Roberta McRae and Marion Reilly leaves the Labor Caucus without a woman member - a situation which causes us great concern and which is a matter of great regret to us. Given my party's long commitment to affirmative action, I am confident that at the next election at least half of Labor's team of candidates will be women and we will again have women representing the ALP in this place.

Mr Speaker, my Labor colleagues have bestowed a great honour on me by electing me their leader. I acknowledge their trust and confidence. I acknowledge the responsibility they have placed in me and put on the record my intention to work as hard as I can to meet their expectations. I am conscious of the task ahead. I am not at all daunted by the prospect. I also want to thank my wife, Robyn, and my family for the untiring support they have given me through a long, arduous campaign. The happy and fulfilling moments of the campaign and the election have been countered by moments of drama, uncertainty and dreadful weariness; and through it all my family has been my greatest support. I acknowledge that.

Mr Speaker, as I said before, Labor has embarked on a renewed approach to the way we operate. This does not mean we will resile from our responsibility to keep the Government accountable to the people of Canberra. Our commitment to social justice, the pursuit of equity and fairness in our community and giving voice to the disadvantaged continues unchanged. It must be remembered that 64 per cent of the Canberra electorate did not vote for the Government, and it is incumbent on Labor in opposition to jog the Government's memory if it should ever tend to forget that. We will not shirk the task.

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