ACT achieves 'first ever female majority' in parliament as ninth Assembly sworn in
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ACT achieves 'first ever female majority' in parliament as ninth Assembly sworn in

A record proportion of women have been sworn in to the ACT's Legislative Assembly, representing the first female parliamentary majority in Australia's political history.

A packed public gallery watched on as 25 new and returning members were sworn in to the ninth term of the Legislative Assembly on Monday morning.

The 13 women sworn in to the Legislative Assembly on Monday represent Australia's first ever female parliamentary majority.

The 13 women sworn in to the Legislative Assembly on Monday represent Australia's first ever female parliamentary majority.Credit:Karleen Minney

The ceremony was held in a new-look, expanded chamber, designed to squeeze in the eight new MLAs now representing five electorates in the ACT.

The chamber is now focussed around a central table, similar to the "table of the house" used in federal and other Australian parliaments.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr told the first sitting of the Legislative Assembly that the government now had a "clear mandate" for light rail.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr told the first sitting of the Legislative Assembly that the government now had a "clear mandate" for light rail.Credit:Karleen Minney

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The 191cm-wide table, which cost $28,207, sits the leaders of the two major parties face-to-face, just out of reach of one another. It brought Opposition Leader Alistair Coe closer to government physically, if not materially.

"Earlier this year, I joked with Mr Barr that, with this new central table, one way or another, the Canberra Liberals would be getting closer to government," Mr Coe said.

"Unfortunately, it's not the side we were hoping for," he said.

The swearing-in ceremony held no real surprises.

Opposition Leader Alistair Coe delivers his statement during the first sitting of the ninth ACT Legislative Assembly on Monday.

Opposition Leader Alistair Coe delivers his statement during the first sitting of the ninth ACT Legislative Assembly on Monday.Credit:Karleen Minney

Joy Burch was elected speaker, Vicki Dunne as deputy speaker, Andrew Barr as chief minister, and Alistair Coe as opposition leader.

But the ceremony did have a moment of real import. Thirteen women from all three parties took their place in the ACT Legislative Assembly, presenting the first ever female majority for an Australian parliament.

Mr Barr noted the significance of the moment in his first statement to the ninth Legislative Assembly.

"It should be acknowledged and celebrated that this is the first time in Australian political history that a parliament has more women than men. This represents another first for the ACT, something that we can all be proud of," he said.

"By reflecting the diversity of our community I'm confident that together we can serve them better."

Mr Barr used his statement to outline his hopes for the first 100 days in the Legislative Assembly.

In that time, Mr Barr hopes to have begun scoping and design work for two new nurse-led walk-in centres and the expansion to the Women and Children's Hospital at the Canberra Hospital campus.

The government will begin procurement for tablet devices for all ACT high school students, releasing the schedule for the new RAPID bus services, and commence staging and design work for the second stage of light rail to Woden.

Plans to roll out the green bin program across Canberra will also progress, and will set out targets to reach zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Mr Barr used his statement to reiterate Labor and the Greens now had a clear mandate to continue with the light rail project.

"The mandate is clear. Canberrans want investment in public transport. Canberrans want light rail," he said.

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"Canberra is growing by 5000 people each year, It is simply impossible for us now to turn back to become a small, provincial country town, and it would be irresponsible to suggest otherwise."

Greens leader Shane Rattenbury said he was proud that the power-sharing deal with Labor would lead to an office of mental health, drug and alcohol court, integrity commission, cycling infrastructure investment, and a 20 per cent reduction in poker machines in the ACT.