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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001-2002 Week 1 Hansard (11 December) . . Page.. 42 ..

MRS CROSS (continuing):

Mr Speaker, the word "represent" brings with it a meaning as narrow, or as broad, as each of us may individually wish to give it. Yet I am sure that the voters of Canberra would want it taken at its most generous, and for that reason I am thrilled to be part of this Assembly-an Assembly, more than those that have gone before, with the greatest potential to represent not only the interests of this unique city but also its values and character. For instance, through the election of six women to this place-up from two in the previous Assembly-we can now better reflect the aspirations of our entire community, male and female alike.

I sought office here to bring to this place a new and important perspective in relation to many of the vital issues that affect, or will affect, the happiness and the prosperity of all Canberrans. For instance, at a time when the world's peace is under threat from those animated by envy, hatred and intolerance, I am proud to stand here as a product of Australia's and Canberra's unique brand of rich, harmonious multiculturalism. I was born in Australia of Greek parents and grew up here. I have also lived abroad in societies with political systems very different from our own form of democracy. One was of the far left, another of the far right. But they differed little in their fundamentals. These experiences broadened my perspectives and reinforced and deepened my appreciation of the society we are so fortunate to live in.

During my time in the Assembly I will champion the values of tolerance and acceptance of all, regardless of race or religion or background-values which I believe are held by the vast majority of Canberra citizens. I will work with the local multicultural community to help ensure the ACT remains one of the most culturally diverse and harmonious communities in Australia. I will use my skills in international marketing to encourage Canberra's thriving business community to make the most of opportunities available in Asia and indeed throughout the world.

As president of the organisation Women in Information and Communication, a group of more than 150 like-minded women involved in the information communication technology sector, I will continue to encourage greater female participation in this vibrant area of innovation and growth among Canberra's industries, and I wish to pay tribute to the women who have paved the way.

I come to this place, Mr Speaker, with the perspective of Canberra's small business community firmly in my mind. I have been closely involved with the community, most recently as president of the Phillip Traders Association. I know some of the frustrations small businesses face from time to time and I want to help lessen those frustrations.

To this end I have already had experience in representing issues to government. Small business is the engine room of the local economy. At its best, it represents initiative and creativity at their best. It embodies values we on this side embrace. Inept government can easily stifle this sector, and I will be ever vigilant in this regard.

I said earlier that one of the most important distinguishing features of this Assembly is the high proportion of female representation. Women attract unique responsibilities within modern society, and no parliamentary body can hope to successfully develop realistic policy positions if the perspective of half the population is not fully understood and respected.

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