ACT News

Meegan Fitzharris, 'the first MLA from Gungahlin', previews first speech

Meegan Fitzharris, overcoming "a few butterflies".
Meegan Fitzharris, overcoming "a few butterflies".  Photo: Kate Leith

Incoming Assembly member Meegan Fitzharris will introduce herself as "the first MLA from Gungahlin" on Tuesday, after putting finishing touches to her maiden speech overnight. 

A month after being declared the winner of a countback to replace former chief minister Katy Gallagher in the seat of Molonglo, the New Zealand-born former bureaucrat and government staffer will be sworn in at the start of the first sitting day for the year. 

After a quiet rehearsal of her speech and overcoming "a few butterflies", the mother-of-three said she would speak about the benefits of the $800 million light rail line to Gungahlin, plans for a cinema in the town centre and traditional Labor Party values. 

"In a Gungahlin sense and from my life experience, I guess I bring a pretty diverse background," Ms Fitzharris said.

"I have lived, studied, travelled, worked overseas. I have been in the public service here as a policy professional, I've been a stay-at-home mum, I've been a working mum.  I think I will bring all of those experiences with me to the Assembly." 

A member of the ACT Labor right, Ms Fitzharris's husband Pierre Huetter is a factional convener. Born in New Zealand in 1972, she moved to Canberra in 2000. 

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Ms Fitzharris said she joined the Labor Party in the same week she became an Australian citizen, after years as a member of New Zealand Labour.

Living in Gungahlin since 2007, she won 2626 primary votes on the Labor ticket at the 2012 ACT election and has served as chief-of-staff to Andrew Barr.

Ms Fitzharris has nominated securing a win for Labor at the 2016 election as a key goal for her truncated Assembly term. 

"I guess why the Assembly is so great is that it is a lot of council and a lot of state responsibilities, and occasionally our contribution to really big national issues," she said.

"I can talk about the playground down the road or I can talk about a modern sustainable transport system for Canberra, economic reform and social policy as well." 

She said Gungahlin residents were passionate about the light rail project's promised benefits but helping her constituents engage with the ongoing consultation processes and details of the project remained a key task. 

"My Labor values are modern values and I will talk quite a lot about growth, opportunity and fairness as things we should strive for. 

"For me I found the right of the Labor Party had both a policy outlook and an approach to politics that I like. It's free, it's democratic and you're drawn to like-minded people."

Tuesday is the first of a two-week sitting period for Assembly members, with six days of business scheduled in the chamber.