Page 23 - Week 01 - Tuesday, 7 December 2004

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our elderly, who have contributed so much as workers, parents, activists and advocates, are guaranteed necessities and a real voice in our community. This means ensuring quality and affordable accommodation, particularly for those who are unable to meet the high costs of private residential facilities. It means quality and affordable health care, and guarantees of material necessities. It also means reasserting a place for the elderly as valued members of our community, ensuring that we, as elected representatives, are hearing the concerns of and working with elderly Canberrans.

I recently attended an event to publicise the international day for the elimination of violence against women, an initiative to encourage men to express their commitment to ending violence against women and children. An issue like domestic violence forces the realisation that gender inequality affects everyone in our community, and that it is the responsibility of all of us to effect positive change. The ACT Women’s Plan, launched by my colleague Minister Katy Gallagher earlier this year, sets out the agenda of government in combating the issues facing women in our community every day, and progresses an exciting program of change.

These are issues of inequality, which we must always be conscious of and work to overcome. This is a core role of government; yet it is my passionate belief that it is through community involvement in the work of government, and vice versa, that real and lasting change is effected and our collective goal of a safe and inclusive community is realised. When we work collectively to achieve common goals, the result can be an exciting and constantly evolving relationship of participation, negotiation and debate. It is by working together and engaging with movements for change that the Labor Party has striven, and will continue to strive, for a better future for us all. These are the principles of Labor and principles that I am proud to stand by and for.

In continuing the work of the Labor government in this project and in embarking on my own exciting journey with the Brindabella community, we realise that the territory in which we live has successfully made the transition to self-government and demonstrated the maturity of the electorate. The federal Liberal government has consistently threatened to exercise its powers in respect of the wishes of that electorate. This is not a feature of party politics, but a recurring tension; yet our active, engaged and vibrant Canberra community requires no constitutional change to realise our democratic voice.

Involvement in the grassroots in community and union organising, and in the regeneration of a vibrant civil society, are the foundation and the defence of our democracy. Democracy is about active and engaged involvement with the workers, families, the elderly and the community organisations that provide the dynamic and inspirational social fabric of the community in which we live and work. I am honoured to represent such an exciting and vibrant community and, in so doing, am committed to maintaining my involvement in that community. I believe the best representation we can provide here in the Assembly is that which I am committed to working to provide. It is an active, engaged representation, informed from grassroots involvement with the people, the ideas and the passion of Canberra.

MS PORTER (Ginninderra): I seek leave of the Assembly to make my inaugural speech.

Leave granted.

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