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Wednesday, 11 November 1998
Page: 183

Ms ELLIS (7:43 PM) —I am very pleased, and indeed honoured, to be returned to this House by the electors of Canberra. Last time around, in 1996, I came in as the new member for a new seat called Namadgi created following a redistribution. Following the 1996 election, a redistribution again occurred, as many of us in this place have experienced in the past and I am sure will in the future, and but for just over 600 people the ACT would have retained that new additional seat. However, as history shows, that was not the case and we went back to two seats in the ACT—Canberra and Fraser.

I thank the members of the ACT Australian Labor Party for giving me this opportunity by endorsing me this time for the seat of Canberra. With this redistribution I now represent the most populous electorate in Australia, with 104,968 voters enrolled as at the close of rolls. For the information of the House, in this respect the seat of Canberra is closely followed by the seat of Northern Territory and Fraser in the ACT.

I am extremely proud to represent the people of Canberra in this place. The ACT supported me and my colleague the member for Fraser in the ACT at the recent federal election with a two party preferred vote of 62.44 per cent. In the seat of Canberra, the two party preferred vote was 60.06 per cent, a result of which I am obviously very pleased.

The Canberra community is often referred to as a Labor town. That is very easy to say, and it is very easy for our opponents to use it as an excuse for a poor vote. But that is also arrogant. I have never used that phrase and intend never to use it. It was not so long ago that that so-called Labor town reacted very strongly against us on this side of the House at that fairly infamous Canberra by-election of 1995. To take any community for granted by labelling it in such a way is folly. As candidates and members, we must work with and for our communities to earn their respect, to learn about and understand them and, most importantly, to not take them for granted. I have worked hard and honestly on behalf of my community and will continue to do so, despite its now large numbers. I look forward to that challenge and to doing all I can to counter the unfortunate, continuing effects of the policy decisions of this government that so adversely affect this community.

My dismay at the announcement by the Prime Minister of his continuing refusal to live in the Prime Minister's residence, The Lodge, was deep. The Australian community pays regard to Canberra as the national capital, and the ACT community is proud of its role in living in, supporting and being part of that role. Why can't this obviously stubborn man see the level of insult he continues to pay both the Australian community and the local one with his continuing decision in this regard?

I want to thank most sincerely the electors of the seat of Canberra for placing their faith in me and in the Australian Labor Party. I give them an assurance of my dedication to the task and look forward to working with them over this term of parliament. I want to record my thanks to my staff, who have worked long and tirelessly over the whole 2½ years of my first term. They have helped me enormously. My thanks to my campaign team, including Michael Cooney, the campaign director; Jim Mallett, the Electorate Committee chair; all executive and other members of that EC; the members of the ALP sub-branches in my electorate; the many volunteers who came into our team with great enthusiasm and commitment; my family, who at a distance offered their ongoing support; and those many community groups with whom I have a close association as patron, member and supporter.

When the Prime Minister and his colleagues boast of their so-called mandate, I encourage them to look carefully at the results of this election. The Prime Minister, in 1996, said he would govern for all Australians, and then continued down a path of division, confrontation and fear for many people. He should wonder, for just a moment, why so many lost faith in him and his policies.

To tell us, since this election, of his so-called rebirth and then to immediately follow it with a reversal on the decision to accept Senator Colston's vote and, more recently, to embark on a path of destruction for Centrelink puts a chill in my spine. Here we go again.

I welcome all those new members to this House, particularly all of these new women. I really look forward to working with them during this term, to supporting them and to us working together to put the Beazley team in place for government next term. (Time expired)