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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 01 Hansard (Wednesday, 5 November 2008) . . Page.. 8 ..

that Canberrans have placed in you. I am very much looking forward to working with each of you to create a better Canberra.

To Meredith Hunter, Shane Rattenbury, Amanda Bresnan, Caroline Le Couteur and Joy Burch, welcome. I look forward to a fruitful working relationship with you.

I take this opportunity to pay tribute to outgoing members: former Speaker Wayne Berry, Deb Foskey, Karin MacDonald, Mick Gentleman and Richard Mulcahy. I pay particular tribute to outgoing Liberal members: former leader Bill Stefaniak, Steve Pratt and Jacqui Burke. I thank each of them for their service to the community and to the Liberal Party over many years. I wish each of them well in their careers post politics.

My thanks to the families of all the candidates and, indeed, each of the candidates. They make a huge sacrifice that is little recognised in the broader community. I would like particularly to pay tribute to my wife, Ros, and to our children, Michael, Tommy, William and Olivia, for their forbearance and support. I love them all very much and they play such a significant role in my ability to serve my community.

I also convey my thanks to the hundreds of party volunteers and the many thousands in the community who supported us. We will ensure that the over 60 per cent of the electorate who did not vote for this government are given a voice and are well represented in this place.

To those returning, welcome back. I thank my colleagues for electing me as their leader. It is a great honour. We have returned to an Assembly of considerably different make-up than the one that rose only a few weeks ago. The shape of this new Assembly brings new challenges, and it behoves us all to meet those challenges with honesty, integrity and courage. It is a challenge all of us share.

This election result sends a strong message to all of us in this chamber, from all persuasions and at all stages in our careers—that the people of Canberra were not satisfied with the status quo. There are now three distinct voices in this Assembly, each playing a distinct role and each with a unique responsibility.

We take our role in opposition seriously. We will keep the government accountable for its actions, we will put forward an alternative vision to the people, and we will always work in the best interests of our constituents.

The Canberra Liberals set the policy agenda in 2008. On big issues, we proposed solutions that saw others follow our lead: smaller classes, duplication of the GDE, after-hours health care, and home insulation. There are other issues we championed where our lead was not taken up by others, and we hope this Assembly can give serious attention to these issues, such as housing affordability and waste reduction.

The new Greens members have chosen to sit as a crossbench, an important role in representative democracy to ensure that government and opposition are kept accountable. I extend my particular congratulations to Meredith Hunter as the Parliamentary Convenor of the Greens.

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