OK, my first sitting week is done.
How was it ?
I loved it. I’ve never been frightened to stand in front of a crowd and tell them what I think. This is the place to do it. I do still feel somewhat humbled to be in the Assembly representing so many people, but I think I’m up to the task.
This week I’ve been called a muppet (by the Chief Minister), I’ve been ordered to sit down and be quiet by the Speaker, I’ve moved motions, I’ve asked questions, I’ve joined committees, done television interviews and interjected when it was warranted. It’s been quite an experience.
Tuesday was a little daunting. This was my first full day in the chamber and I was the first speaker with my inaugural speech. Writing an inaugural speech always seems a little self indulgent, because by its very nature it has to be. To all those who listened to, read or commented on mine, I thank you enormously for indulging me.
I’m glad it’s done and I’m glad that I was able to very clearly draw a line in the sand on the things that I stand for and why. For me it was also so important to hear the inaugural speeches of the other new members. I thought Gordon Ramsay’s and Elizabeth Lee’s were standouts, but I feel I now know much more about Rachel Stephen-Smith, Elizabeth Kikkert, Michael Petterson and Suzanne Orr after hearing their’s.
Labor’s Chris Steel spoke about his late brother Kurt in an emotional moment during his speech and we all felt for him. Kurt was an absolute gem and I’m looking forward to working with Chris.
James Milligan told us the he was going to ask the Speaker to lock the doors before starting his speech so that nobody could leave, but he had nothing to worry about. It was wonderful to hear his story.
It felt a little surreal asking questions in Question Time, but they were questions that Canberrans deserved answers for. Questions about the direction of further development in Tuggeranong, about small business and the future of the greyhound racing industry.
On Wednesday, I got to present a motion to the Assembly pertaining to greyhound racing. We’re not going to win many votes in the next four years and it’s no surprise the motion was radically amended by the Minister for Regulatory Services and then voted for by the other side. It was pleasing to see a number of guests from the sport of greyhound racing in the public gallery during this motion. Many of them left the chamber with tears in their eyes and yet they also carry a steely resolve to see their sport continue in our town.
I was interviewed by Rod Henshaw from Radio 2CC about the motion on Wednesday afternoon. He asked me if I was disappointed by the poor result arising from that motion. I told him genuinely that I believe the debate on this controversial subject had been enhanced by Wednesday’s sitting. I know that the Minister will be meeting with Canberra Greyhound Racing Club in coming days as will the Greens Caroline Le Couteur. I have enormous respect for both members and I believe that they will genuinely consult and assess any evidence that may or may not support a discontinuation of the funding. I’ll also be consulting with some of the loud opponents to greyhound racing next week. I’m keen to hear what they have to say. Predictably the animal libbers have all come out of the woodwork to give me a good whacking on social media. Much of the feedback has been constructive, but some of it is just mindless name calling.
During this week, we also got to bring to the attention of the LA, the plight of Mitchell based distilling company Baldwin Distilling. This small business is kicking some massive goals in the bourbon game including signing contracts with BWS Liquor, but the red tape around electricity supply among other things is making it very hard for them to operate. I’m confident that now this is has been raised in the chamber with the Chief Minister that solutions to these problems can be found. I’m not really interested in a public stoush with Labor over this, I just want to help fix it.
During the week we also responded to 45 constituent concerns either via email, letter or phone call and we are able to solve a number of problems. I thank my hard working staff Rob Lovett and Brad Clarke.
Can’t wait till the next sitting week, but there is much work to do between now and then.