Page 2351 - Week 08 - Thursday, 6 June 2013

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Thursday, 6 June 2013

MADAM SPEAKER (Mrs Dunne) took the chair at 10 am and asked members to stand in silence and pray or reflect on their responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.


MR SESELJA (Brindabella), by leave: I thank members for the opportunity to speak today. Today gives me the opportunity to reflect on my past in this place, and also look to the future.

When I look back at the 8½ years here in the Legislative Assembly, I do so with pride at the many good things we have been able to achieve, and satisfaction that I have given my all to get those achievements done. I do so grateful for the experience, humbled by the honour of being elected on three separate occasions to serve in this place for the best part of a decade and to lead my party for more than five years. I do so hoping that I have left our team in a better position than it was when I arrived, but certain that I am a better person for being part of that team.

On reflection, Madam Speaker, I have fond memories of my first campaign, when, as a rank outsider and virtual unknown, hard work, a good team of volunteers and a memorable slogan helped me to achieve an unlikely victory. I was the one that the computer got wrong, with Andrew Barr briefly taking my spot in the computer predictions on the night of the 2004 election. I was also one the polling got wrong. I was told much later—thankfully, not at the time—that the Liberal Party’s internal polling had me as the sixth most likely out of seven Liberal candidates to get elected. I was reminded again not to trust polling too much when I saw a similar poll in the Canberra Times before last year’s election.

During that first campaign, I fought hard to represent the outer suburbs, particularly places like Gungahlin. Even though I am Tuggeranong born and bred, Gungahlin reminded me strongly of the Tuggeranong I grew up in, only with smaller blocks. The people were the same; the struggles were the same; the dreams were the same. I was determined to get a better deal for all its residents. It drove me then, as it drives me to this day.

In my maiden speech I talked about issues affecting boys—lower educational outcomes, high suicide rates and higher levels of crime. As a father now of three boys and one girl, and now with a teenage boy, I have learned a lot over the last 8½ years about raising kids. When we look at the latest NAPLAN results around the country, we can celebrate how well many of our girls are doing. However, the number of boys lagging behind is still far too high. I want to see policies which ensure both boys and girls are achieving at their potential.

I also spoke of my strong support for educational choice. I attended systemic Catholic schools here in Canberra—St Thomas the Apostle, Padua and St Peter’s. My own parents made many sacrifices to send six kids to Catholic schools, as do thousands of Canberra families. I understand that most families in non-government education are

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