My first speech to the 9th Assembly

31 October 2016

Thank you Madam Speaker, I thank colleagues for their support today and I particularly thank the people of Canberra for the privilege of being able to serve as their Chief Minister for the next four years.


Madam Speaker, may I also congratulate you on your election.  You have ably demonstrated, as Deputy Speaker in the previous Assembly, your capacity to undertake what can be a challenging job.  On behalf of all members in this place, I wish you all the best in your important new role.


I also congratulate and warmly welcome all the new (and returning) Members.  Representing your community is a great honour.  I know how hard you have worked to engage with your local communities during the campaign and I look forward to working with you over the next four years.


I extend a particular welcome to my seven new Labor caucus colleagues.  This is a diverse, local, talented and renewed Labor team. Our newly elected Labor MLAs includes planners, mathematicians, lawyers, early childhood specialists, community activists and policy experts. 

Welcome to you all.  It is a great honour and privilege to lead you in this place.  I am immensely proud of your achievements so far and know that this is just a further chapter in your contribution to our city.

Madam Speaker, it should be acknowledged and celebrated that this is the first time in Australian political history that a parliament has had more women than men.

This represents another ACT first that we can all be proud of. 

By reflecting the diversity of our community I am confident that, together, we can serve them better. And this parliament is demographically more representative with members aged in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s.

Madam Speaker, from the first Ngunnawal people who called this place home, through the birth of a national capital, to the mature and confident city of today, Canberra people have built a life here: in our suburbs and schools, in the public service and business, in our universities and community organisations.


We are proud to call Canberra our home.

For 40 years I have lived and breathed this city.

In that time I’ve seen Canberra emerge as a global city, leading Australia in renewable energy targets, higher education, and adoption of new technology.

Over the years, Canberrans have chosen Labor Governments to help them reach their potential, to support their lives and choices, and to back them in.


As I said when I launched Labor’s campaign, I have never believed that Canberra is a Labor city.


What I DO believe is that Labor is a Canberra Party.

I know our party and I know my colleagues, and I know we all love Canberra: our inclusive and welcoming community, our natural spaces and bushlands. Together, we want to keep the city we love and build a positive new future.

By re-electing my government, Canberrans have voted for a positive vision of a confident and self-reliant city, where everyone is welcome and where everyone has the opportunity to reach their full potential.

I thank the people of Canberra for supporting our positive plan for this city.

They have endorsed our focus on making our healthcare and education systems even better – for everyone, not just those who can afford it.

And they overwhelmingly voted to avoid becoming gridlocked – by backing light rail.

Canberrans have said loud and clear that they want a city that confidently faces the future: a future of healthcare when and where you need it, of world-class learning spaces and tools, and of well-paid and secure jobs in a diversified economy.

A Canberra powered by 100% renewable energy.

And a city where you can move around on convenient, reliable and affordable public transport.

Let’s be clear on this matter once and for all.

Labor took a commitment to start light rail to the 2012 election, we were elected and we delivered on that commitment.

We took a commitment to stage two of light rail to the 2016 election, we have been elected and we will deliver on that commitment.

The mandate is clear.

Canberrans want investment in public transport.  Canberrans want light rail.

With Canberra growing by 5000 people every year, it’s impossible to turn us back into a small provincial town – and irresponsible to suggest otherwise.

This government has been re-elected to ensure planning for our growing city does not mean we will lose the Canberra we all love.

Ours will always be a city of lakes. But ours is a city of bridges too: of things we build, of projects we share.

We are a community with ambition, in a city with advantage.

It is our job as a re-elected government to realise that ambition by capitalising on our advantages as a smart, liveable city with enormous potential.

We will work to diversify our economy and play to our strengths in higher education, research and technology.

With great healthcare, education, transport and amenities we will make the world’s most liveable city a place people come and a place people stay – a place to grow businesses and raise families.

We have been re-elected to deliver a 10-year healthcare plan that delivers care where you need it: real care in real hospitals, five nurse-led walk-in centres and more bulk-billing practices.

We have been re-elected to continue to deliver an education system where every child can realise their potential; a diverse economy of supporting well paid and secure jobs; and to plan and build the infrastructure Canberra needs.

Our first hundred days of government will set these priorities in action.

The Government will commence scoping and design for the new nurse-led walk-in centres and the expansion of the Women’s and Children’s Hospital.

We will start procurement for new tech devices for every high school student and we will fund the Safe Schools program so that Canberra schools remain Safe Schools.

Madam Speaker, We have been re-elected to invest further in public transport and in the first 100 days we will release the schedule for all our new rapid bus services to hit the road in this term and commence the staging and design of the second stage of light rail, to Woden.

We have been re-elected to progress the roll out of Green Bins, by procuring and planning the pilot scheme and giving the Weston Creek and Kambah communities clear start dates.

We have been re-elected to join California and South Australia as signatories to the Under2MOU and to set firm targets to get to zero emissions by 2050.

We will do both in the first 100 days.

Madam Speaker, the Government I lead is working to create a vibrant, renewed city; one that is proud of its own unique identity.

 We are optimistically confronting the new challenges and new opportunities of city life in the 21st century.


Now is the time to be bold, not retreat into our shell in the face of wider economic uncertainty.  We are no longer Sydney or Melbourne’s little brother – we stand in our own right.

Now is the time to demonstrate pride in the Canberra of today, and to set out a clear vision of what Canberra can be in the future.


We are doing that by investing in transport infrastructure to create a new, urban spine for our city, and drive urban renewal to give our residents a wider range of housing choices and economic opportunity.

We also want to see our city centre prosper and evolve.  A confident, bustling, growing city needs a vibrant CBD.  We will deliver that outcome with a new delivery agency established to guide this important work.


Madam Speaker, I’d like to take a moment to acknowledge former opposition leader Jeremy Hanson. Thank you for a hard fought and challenging campaign, but one that focussed on the issues.  

Congratulations to the new Liberal leadership team of Alastair Coe and Nicole Lawder. No doubt there will be many times when we will disagree on policy and politics, however, I am optimistic that the will be issues in this term where the Assembly as a whole will find common ground.   

Welcome back to the Greens Party.  I look forward to working with you to deliver a Parliamentary Agreement that reflects the very strong progressive vote this election. Our shared commitment to improve health care, education, transport and housing in our city will make life better for Canberrans.

I want to thank everyone in the Labor family who contributed to the election victory: our candidates, our staff, led by campaign director Matt Byrne and Chief of Staff Jamie Driscoll, and our thousands of members, supporters and volunteers across Canberra. 

I want to thank my family and my partner Anthony for their love, patience and support for what I want to achieve in public life.

And I thank the people of the ACT for putting their trust in me and this energetic and renewed Labor team.

We will get to work today.  Later this afternoon I will announce the ministerial portfolios of the cabinet. My team will bring forward a significant legislative program when our sittings resume in December.

Let me assure the people of the ACT that their Government will work hard and smart every day to keep the Canberra we love, and make it even better.

Thank you.