ACT News

Senator Katy Gallagher ready for day one in parliament

Former chief minister Katy Gallagher has officially taken office as the ACT's newest senator and will be sworn into the federal parliament on Thursday morning. 

On Wednesday, Senator Gallagher was unanimously endorsed by the ACT Legislative Assembly to fill the casual vacancy created by Kate Lundy's retirement from politics, before required documents were signed by the Governor-General. 

Katy Gallagher, enjoying tea in Chifley, will return to the political scene as a senator.
Katy Gallagher, enjoying tea in Chifley, will return to the political scene as a senator.  Photo: Rohan Thomson

Senator Gallagher will swear an affirmation to the Queen before taking up her seat shortly after 9.30am. 

Moving from the Assembly to federal Parliament won't be the only change for the former territory health minister and treasurer, who has not served in opposition. 

She welcomed the chance to learn the Senate committee system and contribute to policy debates on behalf of ACT voters. 

"Every job you start in life there is always something new and exciting about it," she said. "Even though I have had parliamentary experience, I will go in as a very new and nervous senator. I do understand I have a lot to learn." 


Ms Gallagher's longtime chief-of-staff Margaret Gillespie will lead the new office, assisted by former Assembly aides Sharon Scrivener and Patrick Cronan. 

With the next federal election now closer than the last, Senator Gallagher said she took nothing for granted and would begin preparing for the 2016 campaign. 

"For me this will be my first campaign as a senator. I am going to have to work hard over the next 18 months to be out and about in Canberra and be encouraging people to support the Labor Party." 

She welcomed the chance to again go up against former ACT Liberal leader Zed Seselja, who has served in the Senate since outsting Gary Humphries before the 2013 election. 

Labor is ready to form government after outperforming the Coalition, Senator Gallagher said. 

"I think Labor has proven a united front in opposition, which is very good compared with previous years, and they are starting to roll out policies so it is going to be a very competitive election. 

"There are a lot of reasons why Canberrans are feeling let down by the Abbott government. Part of what encouraged me to go to the Senate was watching what has happened to the city over the last couple of years and watching a government that, if they know what impact they're having, doesn't seem to care.

"Zed should have to campaign really hard to hold on to his seat... but I am going to give it a good shot." 

Senator Gallagher will travel to Norfolk Island in coming months to talk to residents about the federal government's plans to abolish the island's parliament.

Last week divisions remained about the end of self government on the island.  

"I will also be very keen to participate in some of the health policy discussions that are happening within the Labor Party, and I don't think that will be a surprise to anyone," Senator Gallagher said. 

"I also look forward to working in other areas like open government... and some of the stuff we have been doing in renewable energy and climate change in the ACT. There are areas I have never been involved in such as national security, defence... things that haven't crossed my desk as chief minister." 

Her replacement, ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr, said his predecessor would bring fresh perspectives to her new role.

"Katy Gallagher is an experienced, passionate and progressive Canberran who will be a strong voice for our city," Mr Barr told the Legislative Assembly.

"She will work incredibility hard for this city and will be a really proud and passionate voice for Canberra."