Page 37 - Week 01 - Tuesday, 13 December 2016

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just like people who do not profess a faith, cannot be assumed all to think in one particular or uniform way. Assumptions that are made of people may well reveal more about the assumer than about the subject of the assumption, for, indeed, we see the world not as it is, but as we are.

My most recent change, moving from the past 20 years within the church and community organisations to a time of public service in this place, may not actually be a common move but nor is it unheard of. I pay my respects to and I note the precedent of former Deputy Prime Minister Brian Howe, with whom I share a common vocational background and whose work in the area of social reform and housing reform stands as a benchmark for our work here in the ACT. I would be very happy to make the transition from an ordained Uniting Church minister to a parliamentarian that Brian did.

I return to the ancient saying, that “we see the world not as it is, but as we are”. In that saying I not only sense a call to an awareness of myself but also an invitation to look differently. I sense in it a responsibility when it comes to considering the way that I exercise any power that I hold. I am very aware of the position and privilege that I have as one of the 25 people elected to this Ninth Assembly. I am aware of the position and privilege that I have as being only the 72nd person elected to this Assembly in the history of self-government, and I am very aware of the additional privilege and responsibility that comes with my appointment to the ministry.

Drawing on the wisdom of that ancient saying, I am aware that the perspectives, the stories and the lived experiences of people in this community are not the same as mine. I am aware from my previous work in the community in Belconnen, and particularly in west Belconnen, that there are too many here who do it tough. I remember when I arrived in Canberra in 1997 that a wise and experienced Canberran said to me, “You may have heard that Canberra doesn’t have poverty. The reality is that we do, but we hide it better than most places.” The unfortunate reality is that, rather than simply seeing the world as we are, all too often we do not see the world as it is at all.

I arrived in 1997 as Canberra hit one of the most difficult times in its history. There had been a change in federal government. There had been a significant rise in unemployment. There had been a fall in house prices. And there had been a very obvious flattening in the mood of the community. This was a deep and painful strike at the way in which the quality of life in this city was sustained. But this strike gave me the setting, the invitation and the responsibility to see the world not so much through my eyes but through the eyes of others amongst whom I lived and worked.

I have said before, and I continue to affirm, that I have been shaped and changed by the stories and by the lived experiences of the people who have shared their lives with me over the past 20 years. It is a perspective that I have sought hard to maintain. It is a perspective that has driven me towards seeking election to this Assembly. It is a perspective that I hold most strongly now that I have been given the honour of working for the people of Ginninderra in this place—an honour that I take profoundly seriously and am absolutely dedicated to living up to.

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