Speech: Shane Rattenbury First Speech to the 10th Assembly


Speech by Shane Rattenbury MLA to the first sitting of the 10th ACT Legislative Assembly.

Madam Speaker, I acknowledge that this Assembly meets this morning on the lands of the Ngunnawal people, the traditional custodians, and I pay the Greens respect to Elders past and present.

I also underline our commitment to contribute to the journey of reconciliation, and to  closing the gap for First Nations People across all facets of life.

Standing here today, I am joined by five new colleagues, tripling the Greens representation from the last Assembly.

I am pleased to welcome the new Members for the Greens: Rebecca Vassarotti, Emma Davidson, Jo Clay, Andrew Braddock and Johnathan Davis.

With a representative from each electorate in the ACT, we will be able to represent more Canberrans, and bring more of their voices to this chamber. 

My former colleague, Caroline Le Couteur and I were pleased with what we were able to achieve last term, but with 6 Members in this place, I know we can contribute even more this term - with our increased our capacity, we will be able to talk to more community members, more organisations, more industry groups, and bring their issues, their concerns, their hopes and their ideas to this Chamber. 

Thanks to our campaign manager and campaign staff, party director, all our staff who worked to develop our comprehensive policy agenda, our entire team of candidates, and of course the many, many hundreds of volunteers who put their spare time, and their heart and soul in to helping to bring about this result. 

On behalf of all of the ACT Greens, I would also like to congratulate all of the Members who were elected, and particularly welcome the new Members joining us today. 

I would also like to take this moment to acknowledge those Members who weren’t reelected - Gordon Ramsay, Andrew Wall, Bec Cody, Deepak Raj-Gupta, James Milligan and Candice Burch. 

It is a tough and very public way to lose your job, and I know each of them put so much effort in to their role in this place, and in to their campaigns. I wish them well as they forge their new path, post politics.

The Greens took a bold and progressive agenda to this election, with a plan to Build a Better Normal for Canberra.

From the vast and destructive fires and suffocating smoke at the start of the year, to the social, emotional and economic impact of the pandemic, it is clear that business as usual will not help us meet the challenges we are facing. We need to take action to address the climate crisis, we must do more to ensure everyone has a roof over their head, and we need to confront the growing inequality in our community.

My colleagues and I put forward a detailed and cohesive platform designed to respond to these critical challenges, and we are so grateful that so many Canberrans related to those ideas, and supported us to champion them in this place. We will do our very best to honour the trust you have placed in us.

Today the ACT Greens have voted for Andrew Barr from ACT Labor to be Chief Minister.

Over the past two weeks, we have sat down with ACT Labor and discussed our shared values and priorities, and these are reflected in the Parliamentary and Governing Agreement that we signed together yesterday. That Agreement will enable us to continue a very productive working relationship in this Parliament, and in Government. 

The Greens are very proud to have brought forward such an ambitious vision, and the community will see plenty of this vision reflected in the Agreement. 

As the Agreement notes. It comes at a defining moment in our Territory’s history, and outlines a strategy to address the major social, economic and environmental challenges society faces. The Agreement represents Labor and the Greens shared commitment to serve the people of the ACT, and to govern with, for and in the best interests of Canberrans.

Our commitment is to work in genuine partnership, while we retain our distinct political identities and operating cultures. We have demonstrated over previous terms that we can collaborate, compromise and innovate to get good outcomes, and that is what we plan to deliver for Canberrans during this term.

The parties agree that the world is facing a climate emergency, and the Agreement commits us to undertake rapid, science based action to mitigate and adapt to climate change. 

We will take steps to phase out fossil fuel gas in the ACT by building all-electric suburbs and infill developments, creating the ACT’s first gas-free all electric commercial centre in Molonglo, and assisting households to make the transition from gas to electric. We will reform the ACT’s building and planning systems to ensure a transition to best practice climate-ready and environmentally sustainable buildings and planning.

We will tackle the ACT’s transport emissions by transitioning to zero emission vehicles, and giving people improved options for transport with an expanded light rail network, and better walking and cycling infrastructure.

As a city, we must invest more to address homelessness and access to affordable housing options. Under the Agreement, our goal is to deliver 1000 new public and community housing dwellings by the middle of the decade, and to expand the capacity of our community services to help those in need.

We want Canberrans to have a stronger voice in the way their city is governed, and what their neighbourhoods look and feel like. That desire is reflected in commitments to update and improve Canberra’s planning system, and foster neighbourhood democracy. We want to build community connection, and have members of our community work together and with government to solve the questions we face, and be clear in prioritising where we put our effort.

There is of course much more in the Agreement, and in the election platforms that both the Greens and Labor took to the election. The Agreement is a public document, as it should be, available online for anyone with an interest to read. 

One question that has already been posed is whether we can get it all done. It is a broad ranging agenda, brimming with plans to make this city better, and meets the needs and aspirations of our citizens. It is ambitious, but we make no apologies for that - it is what we stood for, and it is what the people of this city deserve.

For the Greens, we would rather set stretch goals than have a shortage of ambition. This Agreement does that, and we Greens look forward to working with our colleagues in the Labor Party to deliver our ambitious plans for the residents of this Territory,