2020 was a huge year for the Greens around the country – particularly in the ACT, where we tripled our representation in the Assembly at the October election. In this latest installment of our series that introduces our newest MPs, we speak to Member for Kurrajong Rebecca Vassarotti.
1. What do you remember about your first election?
It wasn’t long ago, so fairly fresh in my mind. We were very hopeful and optimistic about the prospect of voters supporting a second Green in our five member electorate but it was seen as a long shot by others. On election night, the prospect of this occurring became more of a possibility. While the final result took a week, I was delighted to be confirmed as one of six Greens to be elected in a 25 member parliament – a tripling of our representation. It was thrilling and we are so excited that every electorate in the ACT now has a Greens representative. While we are new in our terms, we have got straight down to work and are determined to make a difference for the voters who placed their trust in us.
2. Endangered Australian animal that's captured your heart?
There are so many special endangered Australian animals, so this is a really hard question! In the ACT we are blessed with a number of special species and I have to say I love the earless dragon - they are small but very resilient and live in some of the precious grasslands that are found across Canberra.
3. What’s your precious place and why?
I am so lucky to live a short work away from Mount Ainslie - its one of our beautiful nature parks that are part of the bush capital. Its beautiful to go up there in the early morning with my puppy dog Xena and be part of this beautiful landscape. At the bottom of the mountain, it can get really busy with walkers, runners and cyclists. As you walk up the mountain it gets a little quieter but you often come across mobs of Eastern Grey Kangaroos and beautiful birdlife. When life gets crazy, its a dose of calm and quiet.
4. Favourite Greens policy?
There are so many! I am so proud that the Greens are commited to supporting people and protecting the planet. I am particularly proud of our policies on renewable energy and climate change. This has provided the ACT Greens with the platform to shape some of the most progressive climate change policies in the country and has enabled us to be a global leader through our achievement of 100% renewable energy target over the last year.
5. Best part of your work with the Greens?
With my recent election and the negotiation of a parliamentary and governing agreement with ACT Labor, I have the very privileged position of being able to bring greens values and policies into the heart of government through Ministerial responsibilities. This is exciting and while a whole lot of work, provides the opportunity to make a real difference.
As the first ACT Greens Minister for Environment, I am keen to ensure a strong focus on responding to our ecological crisis, support biodiversity and support the community volunteers who are working every day to support our local environment. As the Minister for Homelessness and housing services, I will be doing everything I can to ensure everyone has a decent home. As Minister for Sustainable Building and Construction, I am really keen to focus on the three areas of quality, accessibility and sustainability in the buildings we are designing and building. I am also the Minister for Heritage and this is a great opportunity to support us to protect and celebrate our history and understand how we bring together our history and future.
6. What keeps you going?
Passion and optimism that we can make a real difference. Working as part of a committed and supportive team is also vital.
7. Favourite political song?
I am woman! I do love to roar.
8. Who inspires you? Why?
Coming from the community sector, I met people every day who inspired me - those who were navigating great hardship, bad luck, illness and the like. I try to think of them every day as I undertake my work.
9. Comfort food?
I love hot chips!
10. What would you spend $20 billion on?
Social housing and more support services for people struggling.
11. Secret vice?
If I told you, it wouldn't be secret would it!
12. Best coffee/drink in town?
We have a lot of good coffee these days in Canberra. I love ducking over to the Canberra Museum and Gallery café who has great coffee and lovely people working in it. I also love the Italian Place on Mort Street which is an amazing place to have coffee or a meal. Tony and the team really make you feel like part of the family
13. Three apps you can’t live without?
Twitter, WhatsApp and ABC listen.
14. What did you want to be when you grew up?
I could never decide!
15. Morning run or night time swim?
I am more of a gym girl but always in the morning.
16. What’s your greatest hope for the future?
That we take action on climate change and deal with our growing inequality problem.
17. Magic wand to solve one world problem — what would it be?
Climate change. Then we have a chance to deal with other big issues such as poverty and inequality.
18. What advice would you give a new volunteer?
Volunteering is what you make it. Jump in, get involved, find people to support and mentor you and you will have an amazing experience.
19. If you weren’t doing this for a living, what would you be doing?
I have a passion for working in the community sector. You get to work with the smartest, most creative and passionate people. If I wasn't doing this, I would love to be reconnected with some of the amazing organisations I have got to work with.