KATY Gallagher has hinted that the Cabinet vacancy caused by Jon Stanhope’s resignation two months ago might go to rookie backbencher Chris Bourke.
In an interview with “CityNews”, the equally new Chief Minister spoke of the hard work of running the ACT Government with four ministers and the time needed for former dentist Dr Bourke to adjust to the “unusual workplace” of the Assembly before she made any decisions on who the fifth minister would be.
“I have to consider all options and make an appointment on merit,” she said. “We can manage in the short term, but not in the long term.
“It is hard work and the new leadership team has a new energy and are excited and interested… but it’s not sustainable.
“When I appoint a fifth minister it will be the right time and the right decision.”
Gallagher spoke of life in the top job and with pride that her three-year-old daughter thinks she’s the prime minister.
She said her government was doing “very well” to date, considering the circumstances.
Since taking over from Stanhope eight weeks ago, Gallagher has faced the busiest part of the Government’s year.
“In a normal year, end of June is the busiest part of the year, but this change has compounded things,” she said. “I am feeling very positive. The Government has done a lot, we’ve passed the Budget, survived sitting weeks, made changes to the public service structure; it’s a funny job where you don’t usually sit back and reflect and look at what the Government has done and how they’ve dealt with issues.
“It’s gone very well.”
She also said Stanhope’s ambition for more members in the Assembly was still on the agenda for the Government.
“It is not something we can deal with in the immediate future, we will have to wait until next election,” she said. “It will come to a question of good governance… and looking at every member’s workload.”
She said there was a number of recommendations about increasing the number of members, including three electorates of seven – but all were subject to review.
“It’s not just [the workload of the executive] but all of the Assembly,” she said.
She said when self-government began in 1989 there were 17 members of the Assembly with a population of around 270,000. But now, the population is at 355,000 and the number of members remains the same.
This, in comparison to 25 members in the NT parliament and 25 members plus an upper house in Tasmania.
When asked what the point of difference was of a Labor Government under Gallagher she said: “I hope the people of Canberra see a new leader, a local girl who grew up in Waramanga and a government committed to working for and with the community.
“I’m excited to be part of a government that can say: ‘Right – here’s a huge opportunity to face the city and its assets and how do we position ourselves to face the new century’.”