Fed: New senator to raise profile of the other Canberra
By Denis Peters
CANBERRA, Dec 22 AAP - Soon-to-be Liberal senator Gary Humphries said today there weretwo Canberras in Australians' minds and that raising the profile of the Canberra in whichpeople live was his main task ahead.
Mr Humphries, a former chief minister of the ACT, defeated main challengers, formerprime ministerial adviser Gerry Wheeler, and another former chief minister, Kate Carnell,and five other candidates, in last night's ballot.
He will replace Senator Margaret Reid after she retires in mid-February following along stint in the Senate, including as Senate president.
Mr Humphries and Mr Wheeler knocked Ms Carnell out in the second round of ballotingand Mr Humphries polled 191 votes to Mr Wheeler's 147 to comfortably win the third andfinal round.
"The most important job for a Liberal senator, while there's a Liberal government federally,is to argue the interests of the ACT while there are sometimes issues that threaten thoseinterests," Mr Humphries said.
"Unfortunately, the national capital doesn't always get the best treatment. There'salways a sense there's a tension between people's views of Canberra and the interestsof the ACT.
"There are two Canberras - the Canberra that the media refer to, you know, Canberradoes this and Canberra says that, which really means the federal government of whateverpersuasion.
"Then there's the Canberra people live in. My job is to defend the latter over the former."
Mr Humphries said he would achieve this aim through quiet but forceful advocacy withinthe corridors of power.
He would continue to tell Prime Minister John Howard, known to be cool on the performanceof the ACT under self-government, that self-government was an essential and valuable institutionin the ACT.
"The fact is it was the federal government, in fact the federal parliament, that gaveself-government some years ago, and it's obviously not going to be reversed any time soon,"
"But there are always issues around self-government and my job will be to emphasisethat, on issues affecting the ACT community, the territory's own people should make thedecisions on what's in their own interests."
Ms Carnell has refused to rule out another tilt at federal politics despite losingout to Mr Humphries.
She said she would now concentrate on the party in her role as vice-president of theACT branch, but it would be foolish to say she would never try again.
"I think we've made it a bit easy for Labor in the past," she said.
"I think we ought to give them a run for their money but that's not necessarily me.
"At the moment I'll say it won't be me but I know never to say never."
KEYWORD: SENATOR NIGHTLEAD