Page 3971 - Week 10 - Thursday, 28 August 2008

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for their own gain; some of them are burning out; some of them are getting very tired; some of them are wondering if there is anyone to come along and replace them. I take my hat off to the small groups, such as the Old Narrabundah Community Council, and to the peak town councils.

I was accused of lecturing last week—or was it this week—and I have to say that I do find myself with a lecturing tone at times. I cannot say I like it, and sometimes I think my lecturing verges on nagging. No-one likes those tones in their own voices, and at times, of course, I have been castigated for having a highly moral tone. That is supposedly what the Greens have. But I hope that people here remember me as a human being; as a person and not just a politician. Indeed, I have to ask myself whether I am a politician and whether I want to be. On reflection, I think that I do not want to be.

While I think that everything is political, I am not sure that I want to be a politician. I came here as an activist, as someone who had been studying extensively while I brought up my daughter single-handedly, because studying was a good way to have something to do at night and come out with a qualification. However, all of that I did because I wanted to make a difference. When I was a forest activist, I got so sick of people saying, “You’re just talking out of emotion.” It is not okay to fight for forests just because you love them. That put me on my journey of knowledge, because I wanted people to realise you could actually care about something and know about it as well. That is my journey.

To make a difference in Canberra, it does make sense to be in the Assembly. People will remember that I went through trial by media in my first year here. My situation of living in a government house gave political ammunition to those who wanted to change ACT public housing policy from a cross-subsidised social mix to what is going to end up as welfare housing. I have fought for viable government housing as an integral part of our social and affordable housing policy. Indeed, if I had not had public housing, I would not have been able to stay in Canberra, my daughter certainly would not have had security and stability of schooling and she would not have been able to maintain a friendship group. In the private market, you are lucky to stay in a house for a year or two, but I was lucky to have that house. I moved on to college when she finished high school, and all that is very public. I can tell you, Mr Deputy Speaker, it is not very nice to have all that private stuff out there in the public eye so that people feel they have the right to judge and comment upon you when you are not doing anything wrong at all.

I do believe that these experiences have given me a unique insight, which has enabled me to speak for people at the lower end of the economic spectrum. They helped me identify with the residents of the long-stay caravan park, with people in the mental health community and so on. I believe we need MLAs like this. I hope that my experiences do not deter other public housing tenants from trying to make a difference. It will be a very sad thing if you could only enter this place because you own a house.

I have learned something from everyone here. I am not going to tell you what it is, because it has not always been good. I do feel as though I have become part of this Assembly community, and that became very real today. I arrived here so sick today

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