Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 07 Hansard (Tuesday, 1 August 2017) . . Page.. 2309 ..
alongside them. These are women who are showing us the way forward. They are leading the world in academia, sport, media, design and advocacy. They are forging a path for younger women to follow, making it a little bit easier for every girl who wants to be a boxer or a scholar. They show us that if we put our minds to it, women can do anything.
MR MILLIGAN (Yerrabi) (5.11): Forty-six years ago this month in 1971, Sheila Colyer arrived in Australia from England. Last week she finally took the oath and became an Australian citizen. I find her situation interesting as there has been a lot of talk recently about Australian citizenship at the federal level. But under an arrangement with the British government, prior to 1984 six months after arrival British citizens had to enrol and vote. So Sheila did. She voted at every election, federal and territory, ever since. She tells me she had worked until her retirement and paid her taxes. So why, I asked her, did she at this late stage decide to become an Australian?
She tells me it was not that she had not thought about it over the years, but it had never risen to the top of her list of things to do and there was no real incentive for her. But as she approached her 80th birthday, her daughter challenged her: “You are going to be 80 soon. Don’t you think you should become an Australian citizen?”
Sheila decided that it was time. One of the joys of being a member of the electorate of Yerrabi is the opportunity to work with my constituents. I have known Sheila for some time. When Sheila contacted me and asked me to help her fill in her form and to certify that I have known Sheila for some time, I was more than happy to help. It does not cost much to get a form. As a pensioner, Sheila was able to get a hard copy for just $20. We filled out the form, lodged it and just last week, eight months after lodging the form, Sheila finally took the oath that made her a citizen of this great nation.
We do live in a great country. No matter where you come from you have an amazing opportunity to become a citizen. Voting is a civic duty which is both a right and a freedom, one that allows us as citizens to have a choice in government, a choice in who represents us, though the members opposite would waive that right to the union movement.
The right for voters to choose their representatives is one that should be valued and honoured by members of the Assembly and not one that should be treated lightly, with disdain and disrespect, as is the tendency of the members of the Labor Party who would legislate control of the government and government decisions to those not elected by voters.
As Sheila’s elected member for Yerrabi, I value Sheila’s efforts at 80 years of age to become an Australian citizen. I would encourage others to similarly take that step. Though she has voted all her life, I know that the next time she votes, she too will feel a sense of pride, as she tells me she did when she took the oath, which, by the way, she learned off by heart so she did not need to read off the card. She tells me that it