What I’m hearing
People in the ACT are tired of being taken for granted and ignored in federal decision-making. Canberrans want the same rights and representation as other Australians.
The practice of pork-barrelling marginal seats at the expense of genuine needs-based investment in so-called ‘safe’ seats like Canberra has got to stop.
I will fight in Parliament to square the ledger for decades of massive under-investment in our city.
The ACT is receiving an unacceptably tiny fraction of the $110 billion federal infrastructure investment pipeline and our local businesses are paying the price.
With only two Senators representing the ACT, we must both truly stand up for Canberrans. I am committed wholeheartedly to doing that. Together we can make Canberra count again.
- As Independent Senator for the ACT, I will always genuinely listen to and representthe views of the Canberra community.
- I will act in our community’s best interests, without having to toe a party line or be beholden to vested interests.
- As a member of the crossbench holding the balance of power, I will give Canberra a strong voice in key national debates.
- I will fight to ensure the ACT receives our fair share of funding, whether that’s for infrastructure, health, education or other federal expenditure.
- I want to help revitalise and add resilience to our local economy, support growth opportunities for businesses, big and small, and address workforce shortages.
- I will bring leadership and vision for the future of our city, seizing the opportunity to build back strongerand create a more resilient economy following the pandemic.
In more detail
Restoring Territory Rights
I will support legislation that would restore the ACT Government’s right to make laws for its own citizens without interference from the Commonwealth. I will champion reforms that ensure Territorians’ have the same democratic rights and value attached to their vote in referendums as their state counterparts.
Since we achieved self-governance in the late 1980s, Canberrans have had fewer rights to make decisions about our own lives and futures than people in any of the six states.
The Commonwealth has absolute power over the Territory, meaning it can overrule laws passed by the ACT Legislative Assembly. That needs to change. We should have the same rights as the states to determine our own future.
In 2022, all Australian states will either have passed legislation relating to voluntary assisted dying or have a Bill on the matter before their parliament.
Territory rights have almost become synonymous with voluntary assisted dying, but it is important to remember these two things are separate.
There are divergent and tightly held beliefs on the question of voluntary assisted dying. My argument is that whatever your views may be regarding specific pieces of legislation, Territorians should have the right to debate them on their merits and decide for ourselves.
We should enjoy the same level of democratic rights as every other Australian, and that’s what I want to ensure.
People in the ACT deserve to have their vote weighted in full at national referendums, not half that of someone living in a state as is currently the case.
National Convention Centre and Stadium
I will fight to make a new National Convention Centre and Stadium a nation-building priority for Australia’s capital city.
The current National Convention Centre does not have the capacity to attract or host major conferences and exhibitions.
Canberra Stadium in Bruce has reached the end of its useful life and is no longer fit for purpose. It is incapable of hosting major sporting events and is a poor home for Canberra’s beloved Raiders and Brumbies.
Over the past decade, we’ve seen significant investments in other capital cities around the country, and indeed around the world, to modernise their convention centres and stadia. Sydney, Perth, Townsville, Geelong, Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland are all on that list.
The new Townsville stadium hosted 30 major events in its first 18 months of operations, welcoming over 417,000 patrons. Of those events, five sporting matches alone generated $37.9 million and some 10,000 job hours, according to a local economic analysis.
At a much larger scale, but still indicative of the economic multiplier effects from this type of infrastructure investment, the rebuilt International Convention Centre in Sydney generated $510 million in direct expenditure for NSW and led to 981,445 overnight stays in Sydney and 2,806 local jobs being created in 2019/20, despite losing four months’ activity due to the pandemic.
Canberra needs to be able to compete. A new shared Stadium and Convention Centre Precinct on the site of the old Civic pool, with strong connections to Commonwealth Park, will provide a premiere sporting and conference experience for locals and visitors.
It will revitalise a CBD hit hard by the pandemic and re-orient the city, so it no longer has its back towards one of its best assets, Lake Burley Griffin. It will create a venue for major live music concerts and offer new opportunities to bring major events to Canberra.
The longer this project is delayed, the more it will cost to deliver and the higher will be the rising tally of lost opportunities.
The existing Stadium site at Bruce could offer an important sale and redevelopment opportunity, especially for much-needed infill housing.
Construction of a new stadium will take time. Upgrading a venue like Viking Park could provide a temporary home ground for the Brumbies and Raiders as a viable interim solution that will enhance the player and spectator experience. Demountable stadium seating and increased amenity can be employed quickly and cost-effectively to increase the venue’s current capacity.
Going in to bat for our community sports infrastructure
In addition to a new stadium, I will fight for Canberra to receive its fair share of funding to upgrade and maintain our local sports infrastructure.
Sport is a big part of our community’s identity. We have the highest participation rate in sport and physical recreation in the country. Without the big revenue streams of some of the states, however, we need the Federal Government to work hand-in-hand with the ACT to ensure our growing community has access to facilities in which to train and play.
Yet, we continue to be overlooked at the federal level. Last election, the ACT Government received just $6 million from the Federal Government for infrastructure for all sports, while Goulburn and Queanbeyan alone received roughly the same amount just for hockey.
Local sport helps bring the community together. It’s also great for our physical and mental health. We need a stronger vision for sports in our community – one that recognises our love for physical recreation and is underpinned by a plan to meet the infrastructure needs of our growing community. We deserve our fair share, and I’ll be standing up to ensure we are no longer overlooked.
I will also fight to ensure the Government delivers on an election-eve commitment to rehabilitate the AIS Arena. Our community has been calling for this for years, and unfortunately the announcement comes too late for our most successful sporting franchise, the UC Capitals, to have had a home for their finals season in 2022.
We are home to some of the best professional sporting teams in the nation. They deserve state-of-the-art facilities where they can train to perform their best and where we can watch and support them as they take on others from around the nation.
Keeping the public service in Canberra
Canberra is the national capital and the machinery of central government belongs here. I will fight against decentralisation of the public service. The relocation of the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) in 2019 to Armidale in northern NSW, the seat of Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, has been widely seen as a poor administrative decision and pure pork-barrelling.
An Ernst and Young report commissioned by the government warned of ‘significant’ risks associated with the move, including loss of staff, lowered capacity to regulate new agricultural and veterinary chemical products, and reduced access to stakeholders. As predicted, the move was accompanied by the loss of key technical staff who refused to leave Canberra.
I am committed to using my vote in the Senate to block moves by any government to take key agencies and staff out of Canberra.