Late last month I announced my very difficult decision to not re-contest a seat in Ginninderra in the upcoming ACT Legislative Assembly elections due in October 2016. As you may be aware, I have been considering my future, and as the Labor Party nominations to contest the next elections came to a close, I needed to make this decision.
I have always said that one’s role as an MLA is to always give 100 per cent of one’s effort. As many of you know, by the next election I will have turned 74, and I have been experiencing a number of health challenges lately. While not being of a very serious nature, they continue to prevent me giving that 100 per cent. Whilst I am still committed to my constituents, to my party and to my colleagues, I believe that it is the right time for me to move on.
It is a great honour to be chosen by your fellow Canberrans to represent them and I have been honoured to serve them since 2004. I must say I have greatly enjoyed the time I have been privileged to spend as an MLA, and proud of the many things I have been able to achieve with the community. As a Member for Ginninderra I have particularly welcomed the opportunity of helping to make a difference for people who believed they were not being heard or who had not known where to turn if they had a problem.
Many will know that I was able to do this through conducting my mobile offices around the local shopping centres on Friday nights and weekends, giving me the opportunity to speak with thousands of Canberrans.
Introducing a private members’ bill to give greater security for people living in retirement villages, and having it passed unanimously, was certainly a highlight for me, as was the continued growth in the use of Restorative Justice processes in the ACT community, a passion I will continue to pursue.
Advancing the conversation around end-of-life issues is also important, particularly to older members of our society, and I look forward to continuing that conversation for the remainder of my term and after my time in this place. I am also very committed to animal welfare and responsible pet ownership, and have been privileged to work with the members of Pets and Positive Ageing Incorporated and with the ACT Government to make a real difference here, again something I will continue to work to advance.
While I know there will be many who are disappointed with my decision not to continue in the Assembly, I am aware there are a number of excellent community based candidates, who have nominated in the Labor Party pre-selection process. These candidates will continue to effectively represent Belconnen residents, if elected. The changes taking place at the next election, which will see an increased number of members and changes to the electorates, present a good opportunity for these new members to be elected to the Assembly.
I thank you all once again for electing me as your representative.