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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001-2002 Week 1 Hansard (11 December) . . Page.. 41 ..

MS GALLAGHER (continuing):

How do we get rid of you?" This applies as much to the people we encounter in this job as it does to ourselves. I hope my constituents repeat this when meeting me and check my progress in the spirit of accountability. I also hope to inspire in the people of Molonglo the confidence that I will use this position not only to represent but empower them.

Mr Speaker, we are charged with a difficult task at a difficult time-to provide leadership and support to the people of Canberra at a time of international and local uncertainty. At such a time it is easy to allow our fears and prejudices to direct our actions. It is easy to accuse and blame others while ignoring our responsibilities to care for and support each other.

Already we have seen in this country issues of refugees and terrorism severely challenge the Australian ideal of a fair go for all. Recent events have tainted Australia's reputation for generosity and openness with fear and suspicion. This is not the Australia I want for my family.

Canberrans should feel secure enough in themselves and in their knowledge that their government hears and acts on their concerns to act generously and calmly in times of crisis. It is the task of this Assembly to provide that security. We should work together with the community to reach those people who may feel dispossessed or marginalised. I take it as my personal task to heed their concerns, to discuss with them their issues and to represent their interests in a progressive and generous Assembly. I hope the members here today will also make this their goal. Thank you.

MRS CROSS: I ask for leave of the Assembly to make my inaugural speech.

Leave granted.

MRS CROSS: On the matter of politicians' speeches, a wag once said that "a politician who sticks to the facts has no respect for tradition". I guess that leaves me with no option, Mr Speaker, but to break with this alleged tradition and stick to the facts.

I am honoured to be given this opportunity to speak for the first time in our Legislative Assembly, and with this opportunity comes responsibility. I want to say to all who voted for me: I will not forget my responsibility to you. I am proud to represent the people of Molonglo, I am proud of our wonderful city, and I will represent all Canberrans to the best of my ability.

Mr Speaker, I believe the people of Canberra will find the Liberal opposition far more diligent and hard working than those we have replaced. For me, this is an opportunity to be proactive, rather than merely opposing the government of the day for the sake of doing so-even when that meant occasionally opposing their own policies.

As a newcomer to public life, I am aware of my limitations when it comes to the complexities that will confront us in this chamber during the years ahead. I do not claim to be the well of all wisdom, but my life experience has taught me one thing-the importance of team play. One thing I can pledge is that I will listen and read and use whatever abilities I have to ensure this parliament makes sensible decisions and performs in a respectful manner.

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