Page 5037 - Week 13 - Wednesday, 28 November 2018

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MS CHEYNE (Ginninderra) (6.49): Each day in this job it is a privilege to interact with people, to meet people we never would have otherwise met, to help people and to make a difference, and when I reflect on the achievements this year there are so many stories about people to tell and so many people to thank. I want to put on the record a few experiences which will stay with me long after I have left this place.

Watching Mike Avis graduate from the Ginninderry SPARK conservation land management and horticulture program is one. When I met Mike earlier this year, by his own admission, he was not in a good place. Being part of Mike’s transformation this year has been one of the most rewarding experiences for my office.

Another was drafting, speaking on, voting on and then delivering the remonstrance to the Senate after they denied Canberra citizens the right to be treated the same as citizens in the states in deciding our own laws on voluntary assisted dying. We turned one of the lowest points of my political journey into a strong signal that the fight had only just begun.

Another was having people swarm around us at Margaret Timpson park as we brought one of my long-held visions to life with the Belconnen town centre twilight market and broader show case. It is people who make a place, and thousands of people made that place light up on that cold night.

Yet another was uniting in this chamber last month on behalf of parents and babies everywhere by recognising the need for a physical breastmilk bank closer to us here in the ACT region and the stories many parents told me of some of their most vulnerable times.

Very recently I was working with grieving families as we try to uncover just what has gone wrong at Norwood crematorium for them to have lost children’s ashes. Most importantly, we do not give up in our quest to have those ashes found.

There are an enormous number of people to thank who help in getting the important work of this job and the important work of this place, more broadly, done. I have outstanding staff. This year we bid a fond farewell to Josh Orchard and Maddie Manning who gave so much to the office. I continue to enjoy the support of Minuri Dharmasena and Jemma Cavanagh. We also welcomed Annika Rees and Maryanne Irhia and Xiaolan as our intern.

But an extra special thank you goes to Emma Kelly who took a very big leap of faith to move from journalism into the bright world of politics. The transition has been seamless, I think, which says a great a deal about her professionalism and her capacity. To Nick Argy: Nick’s contribution, Madam Speaker, I am sure you are aware, is simply extraordinary. He goes above and beyond every single day. The sheer amount of work Nick does each day, and always so compassionately and always in such a friendly manner, is a template for us all.

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