ACT News

Katy Gallagher's resignation becomes official

Former ACT chief minister Katy Gallagher has nominated increased representation for Canberra residents and a growing government ministry as key achievements of her more than three years in power.

Submitting her official letter of resignation to the ACT Legislative Assembly Speaker Vicki Dunne on Tuesday, Ms Gallagher said the expansion of the Assembly to 25 members at the 2016 election was a highlight of the current electoral term. 

Her resignation has sparked a count-back of votes in the seat of Molonglo, set to be finalised by mid-January. 

Last week the 44-year-old was endorsed by the ACT Labor Party to take up the Senate seat set to be vacated by former Gillard-government minister Katy Lundy.

Ms Gallagher was the only nomination for the position and is expected to move to the Senate in April. 

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"I would like to thank the people of Canberra for their support over my time in the Assembly and in particular to the people in the electorate of Molonglo who have given me such strong support at the four elections in which I stood as an ACT Labor candidate," Ms Gallagher wrote. 

She described the Assembly's expansion as "a hard fought reform" which required the Commonwealth government to agree "that the ACT Assembly alone should have the right to determine its own size". 

"Former minister Simon Crean and former prime minister Julia Gillard should be acknowledged for agreeing to this important reform in 2012."

Praising ACT Opposition Leader Jeremy Hanson for his cooperation on the expansion, Ms Gallagher said no future ACT governments would have to carry the "unreasonable workloads that were required by each government I served in over the past 12 years." 

ACT Electoral Commissioner Philip Green said Ms Gallagher's replacement in the Assembly would be known early in 2015. 

Voters who supported the former chief minister in 2012 would determine her replacement through the count-back of ballots, Mr Green said. 

Advertisements notifying candidates of the count-back will appear on Monday January 5, 2015 in The Canberra Times. Candidates who were unsuccessful in the Molonglo electorate in 2012 will be invited to contest the count-back. 

"Where practicable the commission will also notify all those unsuccessful candidates directly," Mr Green said.

"Those candidates then have 10 days to indicate if they wish to contest the vacancy. Applications from candidates must be received by 12 noon on Thursday January 15, 2015." 

The names of the candidates contesting the vacancy will be officially declared that day before a computer counting program is used to determine which candidate will be elected to the Assembly to replace Ms Gallagher. 

Mr Green said he expected the official declaration of the result would take place on Friday, January 16 at 3 pm at the Legislative Assembly. 

Chief Minister Andrew Barr's chief-of-staff Meegan Fitzharris is expected to win the count-back. 

The former Attorney-General's Department official and mother-of-three won 2626 primary votes on the Labor ticket in 2012. The Gungahlin resident has served as a policy adviser, state and Commonwealth public servant, consultant and stay-at-home mum.

A spokesman for Mr Barr confirmed last week Ms Fitzharris was on leave from the Assembly.

She is expected to serve as a backbench member if she wins the count-back. 

Factionally aligned with the Labor right, Ms Fitzharris campaigned on support for a new cinema in Gungahlin and said she was in part inspired by the full-time political career of Ms Gallagher. 

The new Molonglo representative will be formally voted into the Assembly on the first sitting day of 2015, scheduled to be February 10.

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