In my final speech to the Assembly this year I reflected on a few things that really made 2017 for me: marriage equality, voluntary assisted dying and a special lady called Cherie.
It was important to put on the record my thanks to my extraordinary team - Maddie, Josh, Jemma and Minuri - who've really helped me find my feet during this first year. And, of course, thank you to the people of Ginninderra for your continued trust and support. It remains truly humbling to represent the home I love so much in the city I love so much.
Here's the transcript:
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.
There is an enormous number of people who helped me to be an effective local member. I would particularly like to acknowledge everyone within the Office of the Legislative Assembly for their support and for fielding my weird and wonderful questions. I especially wish Max all the best in his retirement.
Thank you to my colleagues throughout this chamber for working largely collegiately and making it an interesting place, especially in committees. I also single out my fellow whips and you, Madam Speaker. Clearly, I have spent too much time with you all, as I have grown rather fond of everyone.
To my staff, Maddie, Josh, Minuri, Jemma, intern Jacob and work experience student Andrew, you are the brains and the patience behind the Tara Cheyne operation. You really do make all the difference. I could not ask for a better or more supportive team. For you to have had my back throughout this year has meant the world.
Finally, thank you to the constituents of Ginninderra. As I said in my inaugural speech, it is enormously humbling to be a representative of the home I love so much in the city I love so much. It remains an honour and a privilege to be here, and there is more work to do.