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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2016 Week 02 Hansard (Thursday, 18 February 2016) . . Page.. 573 ..

Thursday, 18 February 2016

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.


MS PORTER (Ginninderra): I seek leave to make a valedictory statement.

Leave granted.

MS PORTER: Before I start my valedictory speech, Madam Speaker, I would like to let you know that I will be handing you my letter of resignation as Deputy Speaker immediately after my speech. Given that this is my last day as an MLA in this chamber, this will give you time to consider it as my Assembly colleagues respond to my valedictory.

Firstly, I thank my colleagues in this place and in the Labor Party more generally, and those opposite, for the great honour and opportunity to stand for election the first time in 2004. I thank and acknowledge the people in my electorate of Ginninderra who have put their faith in me on three consecutive occasions in choosing me to represent them and to give them a voice in the ACT government.

I took my seat back then with a sense of pride in making history as the person whose election gave the ACT its first and so far only Labor majority government in the ACT. Members may remember I said then that, in 1954, my father having made the decision that our family should emigrate to Australia to give his girls a greater opportunity to better themselves, took us across the world as migrants.

We arrived in Australia as Mr Purnell and three others, according to the official records: my three-year-old sister, I at 12 years of age and my mother. We settled in Wollongong and I attended Wollongong High School. I then graduated from Wollongong general hospital, first in general nursing and later in midwifery.

I left Britain as a person already with strong social values passed on to me by my parents and grandparents. I had served in the British Red Cross as a volunteer from a very young age. To seek opportunities for service was second nature, I guess. As you know, I spent 12 years in remote Indigenous communities in Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory as a bush nurse. In this environment I brought up my three children, the eldest a son with a disability at the time.

When he turned 12 the decision was made to move south to be closer to medical and other services; so we came to Canberra. Life in the Top End without roads and without all-weather airstrips, without all the basic services we all take for granted, was exciting, challenging and fulfilling. However, without even regular GP visits to settlements, let alone access to specialist advice, it was necessary to uproot ourselves.

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