Speaking at the opening of the Tenth Session of the ACT Legislative Assembly on Tuesday, new Opposition Leader Elizabeth Lee presented the Canberra Liberals as a modern and diverse party that would speak for the forgotten Canberrans, and hold Andrew Barr’s government to account.
“It is an enormous privilege to be afforded the opportunity once again to be a voice for our community,” Ms Lee said. “We are an incredible team that brings together an enormous diversity of life experiences, of professional backgrounds, and of different cultures.”
Ms Lee herself was born in Korea; her team includes Italian, Tongan, and Malaysian Australians (deputy leader Giulia Jones, Elizabeth Kikkert, and Nicole Lawder). The Liberal MLAs range from the traditional spheres of law, business, the military, social advocacy, and the public service to radio announcers and country music singers.
“I am so proud that the Canberra Liberals put up an impressive line-up of candidates that reflect the depth of diversity in our great city,” Ms Lee said.
“It was, of course, in sharp contrast to the field of candidates put up by Labor and the Greens, and our party room reflects that. But diversity goes beyond gender and ethnicity; our diversity of views, life experiences, and opinions should be protected fiercely because different ideas and the freedom to express those ideas make for robust debates that inevitably lead to better outcomes.”
Ms Lee said the Liberals would speak for the most vulnerable in society, “those forgotten Canberrans that 19 years of this government have left behind”.
“We acknowledge and thank the thousands of Canberrans who put their faith in us at this year’s election and shared the same tears as we couldn’t quite just make it across the other side of the chamber.
“These are the hardworking, everyday Canberrans who for years have felt abandoned and voiceless, but we also acknowledge the Canberrans who did not vote for us; their voices spoke loud, and we will listen to and be here for them, too.”
Ms Lee said she looked forward to collaborating with the Labor-Greens government on areas where they could find common ground – but also promised to challenge them.
“We as the Opposition have an important job to do in keeping the government to account, to fiercely protect the integrity of government, the proper use of taxpayer monies, the transparency and accountability of all government decisions. We will look at every government decision and initiatives on their merits and whether it is the best interests of the Canberra community.”
Ms Lee vowed to follow her father’s advice: to listen, to see, and to feel before speaking.
“Even from Opposition, we are going to achieve some extraordinary things,” Ms Lee said.
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