Page 5196 - Week 13 - Thursday, 29 November 2018

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say that the importance of that pair to me and the people close to me is enormous. For various reasons that pair is no longer required for me from next year, so I look forward to being a part of proceedings in this chamber until the close on Wednesdays. I know it is a little early, but Merry Christmas to all.


MS STEPHEN-SMITH (Kurrajong—Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Minister for Disability, Minister for Children, Youth and Families, Minister for Employment and Workplace Safety, Minister for Government Services and Procurement, Minister for Urban Renewal) (9.33): I rise to speak, I hope briefly, to reflect on the parliamentary year and also to give a note of thanks to those who have made it possible.

My second year in this place has been as busy and as fulfilling as the first. Marking Reconciliation Day as a public holiday, Australia’s first public holiday celebrating the culture, contribution and resilience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and the delivery of the secure local jobs package to achieve better outcomes for Canberra workers, stand out as two of the highlights of the year.

I would like to thank all the hardworking officials who have made these, and so many other achievements, possible. In particular, I would like to take a moment to thank the front-line workers in child and youth protection services. We often thank front-line workers at the end of the year, and we talk about the firies, the ambos and the nurses who will be working on Christmas Day. Child protection workers and youth justice workers also work 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, and they deserve our thanks on behalf of all of the community as well.

I would also like to thank the attendants and the other OLA staff who keep this place going and ensure, as far as possible, that everything runs smoothly; when it does not, we accept full responsibility for that.

To my own staff, I do not think words could adequately express the depth of my gratitude to them. There is no group of people that I would rather have by my side in an escape room; and we managed to prove that at our planning day this year.

I thank my chief of staff, Mel, who is a tireless source of strength and humour, not always appropriate, but always appreciated; and Jonny, my office manager, who keeps the show on the road. We were quite surprised to learn that we could in fact operate without him recently. I also wish to thank Ellen and Safia for filling in and doing an outstanding job while Jonny was on leave.

I thank Tim, who previously had the toughest job in the office, as media adviser, and who has recently taken on a policy role. I really look forward to working with him in those areas that he is so passionate about. I thank Ash, who has been such a positive presence in the office since coming on board earlier this year.

Alex, James and Christina each made such a strong contribution, and I wish each of them the best with the new adventures that they have now embarked on. I say to the

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