Page 5317 - Week 14 - Wednesday, 29 November 2017

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Marriage equality

Voluntary assisted dying


MS CHEYNE (Ginninderra) (6.50): What a year it has been! It is too difficult to reflect on everything that has made this year what it is, so I will be reflecting on just a few things that have really made an impression on me. It is particularly meaningful that, in respect of two of the issues I am reflecting on, today actually has turned out to be a historic day.

Today a law for marriage equality passed the Senate, following an incredible, clear, positive vote two weeks ago to this day. There is one more important step to go, but what happened today alone is momentous. I know I have come into this place on the back of so much work by previous Labor governments. It is especially humbling in this year to be part of this government that has led the way in uniting the city and in uniting this country on such an important vote and to finally see marriage equality.

Also, today Victoria became the first jurisdiction in Australia to legislate for voluntary assisted dying. This is an incredibly important issue to me, but the issue of end of life choices was incredibly important to my predecessor, Mary Porter, too. I am proud to continue this work and the attention that I, together with the support of my Labor and Greens colleagues, have brought to the issue this year. I promise to keep working on this. Victoria’s legislation is important for pretty obvious reasons, but one of the reasons it is so important is that it further underlines how ridiculous it is, how unacceptable it is, how inexcusable it is that the federal parliament allows legislation to continue to operate which restricts the right of the ACT to determine its own policy in this area.

In my inaugural speech just under a year ago I said that continuing to have conversations is critical in this job, whether letters, at stalls or on Facebook. I get more correspondence each day than I can keep up with, which is a happy problem. I remain committed to keep personally replying to each person who takes the time to write to me. The problems that we help solve each day, day to day, really are the bread and butter of being an MLA.

It is through a street stall that I had one of the most meaningful and fulfilling interactions this year. In April I met Cherie, who did not have a job. In fact, she had not worked for a very long time. She approached me for help in finding a job. Frankly, I had no idea what to do. I was not sure if I would be able to help her, but I promised her that I would go down every avenue. I believed in her. After a few dead ends, which I acknowledge, I managed to encourage Cherie to apply for the Ginninderry SPARK childcare program. The long and the short of it is that she did and I am so proud to report that Cherie kept in touch every few weeks throughout the program, that she graduated from that program earlier this month and that she has found employment. We have a lot to be proud of in this place, especially as a government, but Cherie’s journey will always hold a special place for me.

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