Newest Canberra Liberal Candice Burch sworn in, takes aim at government waste
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Newest Canberra Liberal Candice Burch sworn in, takes aim at government waste

The ACT Legislative Assembly's newest member has used her inaugural speech to take aim at those who claimed you could not be young, female and conservative.

Candice Burch was sworn in on the first sitting day of 2018, replacing Steve Doszpot, who died from liver cancer last year.

Canberra Liberals' newest MLA Candice Burch, was elected to fill the casual vacancy left after Steve Doszpot's passing last month.

Canberra Liberals' newest MLA Candice Burch, was elected to fill the casual vacancy left after Steve Doszpot's passing last month.

Photo: karleen minney

The 29-year-old former public servant said she never made a "conscious" decision to enter politics, or join the Liberal Party, but rather had a "deep-rooted passion" for freedom, individual liberty, equal opportunities and small government.

"One of the most common questions I received on the campaign trail - probably second to whether or not you and I are related, Madame Speaker [Joy Burch] and we're not, for the record - but one of the most common questions I was asked was, 'You're a Liberal? But you're young. And a woman?'

"Well, I guess that depends on your definition of young... but yes, I'm under 30, I'm a woman, and I'm a Liberal. And these things are in no way inconsistent."

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Ms Burch's election to the Assembly marks the first female-majority Liberal opposition in Australia.

Male Liberal party members were shuffled from the front row of the public gallery shortly before the 10am bells rang because of concerns about how it would look.

Ms Burch said the "waste and inefficiencies of government" frustrated her, but she did not believe reducing government waste meant job cuts.

"Efficient government means finding better ways of doing business. Efficient government means ensuring that we are harnessing and investing in technology, to allow our public servants to do the best job they can do. Efficient government means making sure that our public servants have the skills and expertise, to continue to serve us well into the future," Ms Burch said.

Inspired by her own public education in Sydney, Ms Burch said she believed in funding quality education and health services, but wanted those services to be efficient and effective.

The new Liberals' spokeswoman for transport, Ms Burch said her short stint in Canada last year inspired her to see Canberra have a "well-integrated" system of buses and, "God forbid", trams.

"Within a week, I was able to navigate the public transport network better than I can after more than 10 years in Canberra," Ms Burch said.

"This is the kind of public transport system Canberra needs. Easy to navigate, fast, and gets you to where you want to go.

"And while much higher population density and the grid streets of Toronto make for a system which certainly couldn't be replicated here, I think it is essential that we find the right mix of transport options to suit Canberra's needs."

She said people in her inner city electorate of Kurrajong were "frustrated" by a government that was "so often focused on federal issues, symbolic gestures, and doing favours for their union mates".

"Politics should be about people, and yet, all too often, politics seems to be about little more, than power. I am listening. I will stand up for you and fight for your priorities, and I will ensure your voices are heard," Ms Burch said.

Katie Burgess

Katie Burgess is a reporter for the Canberra Times, covering ACT politics.

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