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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 1 Hansard (11 December) . . Page.. 22 ..

Distinguished visitors

MR SPEAKER: Members, before we move to the next item of business, I would like to acknowledge that, during the morning, Senators Lundy, Bartlett, Stott Despoja, Ridgeway and Sherry may be in the building from time to time. Thank you, members.

Inaugural speeches


: Mr Speaker, I ask for leave of the Assembly to make my inaugural speech.

Leave granted.

MR SPEAKER: Before I call Mr Pratt, I would like to remind members that this is an inaugural speech and it is the tradition that we hear such speeches in silence.

MR PRATT: Mr Speaker, today marks a very special occasion, not only for me but also for all those people who have stood by me and believed and fought for me, particularly over the past two years.

Two years ago, while working for Care Australia, I was incarcerated in a Yugoslav jail, not knowing whether I would ever walk again in the sunlight of an Australian summer or through the Australian bush, watch the breakers on an Australian surf beach or enjoy that most Australian of all pursuits, a couple of beers with old mates. Yesterday, Mr Speaker, I was reminded of my ordeal when honoured to meet the remarkable Peter Bunch and Diana Thomas, unlawfully jailed by the Taliban 31/2 months ago in Afghanistan.

The road that led me to a prison cell in Belgrade also led me to stand here in our Legislative Assembly. As the new Liberal member for Brindabella, I must first thank the people of Brindabella, who have, by supporting me, given me the opportunity to serve them. To them I say thank you, I will not let you down. I pledge to do my utmost to represent you in every way I can to the best of my ability.

Mr Speaker, I would also like to thank my wife, Samira Baqatada, for her support and patience through the hardest days of our lives, and I thank her for the gift of our daughter, Yasmina. I would also like to thank my son, Haydon Pratt, for his love, understanding and patience over these rather tumultuous 12 months.

I would also like to thank my campaign workers-if I may be generic here-that little band of brothers, men and women who stood by me, and worked tirelessly in my campaign to win the seat in Brindabella. I owe my thanks to Daniel and Melissa Clode, Tina Faulk, Margaret Head, Nellena Garland, Peter Polkinghorne, Harsh Puri, Judith Bascom and many, many others.

I would also like to thank my Liberal colleagues, candidates who campaigned in Brindabella: Winifred Rosser, Megan O'Connor, Steve Dozpot and Brendan Smyth. In Brindabella, the Liberal campaign was very much a team effort, one that was integral to winning back the second seat. After integrity, I place the very highest value on teamwork and loyalty.

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