Page 1964 - Week 06 - Thursday, 9 June 2022
Labor has promised to deliver three more community batteries across Canberra to allow solar energy to be stored. These batteries will bring down power prices, as well as, importantly, reducing emissions. These are the sorts of innovative and progressive policy ideas that Canberrans want to see. In this election, Canberrans made their voices heard by strongly endorsing the proposals being put forward by the Labor Party and rejecting the years of neglect that Canberra has felt under the coalition.
I should also acknowledge and congratulate the likely new senator for the ACT, David Pocock. Whilst counting is still underway, it seems certain that Mr Pocock will become the next senator for the ACT. It is an impressive achievement to be elected to the Senate as an independent candidate, and an even more impressive achievement to do so by unseating a long-term senator from a major party.
I imagine that those opposite must be doing some soul-searching. Somehow they have managed to lose their only federal representation in parliament. Many Canberrans have long wondered how the ACT, one of the most progressive parts of Australia, ended up with someone as conservative as Senator Seselja. Many of us, myself included, thought it was highly unlikely that he would ever be beaten to a quota in the Senate race. It seems, however, that that day has arrived.
It is clear that, for the first time in a long time, Australia has elected a government that cares about Canberra. The ACT is represented by two ministers, and the Canberra region by three. Senator Katy Gallagher, a former Chief Minister in this place, has become the first finance minister from the ACT. Dr Andrew Leigh MP, the Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities and Treasury, representing many of my constituents, will be a voice for the needs of our communities at the federal level. Kristy McBain, the new Minister for Regional Development, Local Government and Territories, will be a strong advocate for the Canberra region. I have no doubt that the ACT and the Canberra region will be very well represented.
I am also calling on the ACT government to work with all members of the federal parliament for the betterment of the territory. Our country has elected a Labor majority government but also a diverse crossbench. Their voices should be heard and they should be involved in the work of bettering our country. It is important that the ACT works with the whole parliament on the proposal to reinstate territory rights. This is a key and defining issue for Canberrans. We do not want to be treated as second-class citizens.
The ACT is often forgotten when decisions are made at a federal level. For the last nine years Canberra has been dismissed by the coalition as being the “Canberra bubble”, “cushioned from reality” and just a “regional centre full of public servants”. The election of a majority Labor government is also a clear rejection of the divisive, fearmongering culture war politics being played by the Liberal-Nationals coalition. It is a rejection of the coalition’s refusal to act on climate change, on women’s safety, on corruption and on many of the issues that Canberrans care deeply about.
Under the last nine years of coalition governments, Canberra has been treated with disdain. In the last term of government, one of the major priorities of the coalition was