Fitzharris calls time on political career

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Former ACT Labor minister Meegan Fitzharris has announced she will not contest the next election and will leave the Legislative Assembly on Monday 8 July.

Ms Fitzharris, who stood down as a Minister on Monday 1 July, made the announcement on Wednesday 26 June, citing her decision as “a personal one, and stems from a desire to better balance my family life”.

“This has been an incredibly difficult decision for me, but it is the right decision and will allow a new member of our team to come into the Assembly prior to the 2020 election.”

First elected as the Member for Molonglo following a countback after the resignation of former Chief Minister Katy Gallagher in December 2014, Ms Fitzharris was re-elected as the Member for Yerrabi at the 2016 election.

During her tenure, she held some of the toughest portfolios in health and transport, overseeing light rail, but hopes the community thinks “about me in the way I went about my job; being open, listening to people and undertaking some fairly serious decisions around reform”.

“Previously, transport hasn’t been a high profile portfolio. I think what made it high profile was light rail and the significant changes it brought with the bus network.

“It was tough, but I feel I got a lot done and in health it was a privilege to learn about so many incredible things in research and day-to-day care.”

With Ms Fitzharris’ resignation, a casual vacancy is expected in the Legislative Assembly with the most likely replacement to be Indian community leader Deepak-Raj Gupta.

Ms Fitzharris said she “understands that the Chief [Minister] has said there is potential for another minister to be added” but it will need to be discussed at caucus.

In the interim, Ms Fitzharris’ portfolios have been redistributed between her colleagues with tertiary education going to ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr, health to Rachel Stephen-Smith and transport to Chris Steel.

“I know they’ll do great and they’ll bring their own style and approach to the part,” she said. Her parting advice includes to work collaboratively, “really listen, and ask questions”.

For now, Ms Fitzharris is looking forward to her post-political life and more time with her family. She said she would like to keep working and is interested in health reform as well as executive government leadership, “but we’ll see what happens”.

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