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2016 proves that Canberra has a brain, soul and heart

By Rebecca Vassarotti - 29 December 2016 8

2016 highlights

As 2016 draws to a close, and we reflect on Brexit, the election of Trump, the many natural disasters around the world and the ongoing conflicts in Syria and South Sudan, it’s hard not to feel it has been a pretty difficult year for our world. Due to this, it can be easy to forget that there has also been some pretty wonderful things that have happened this year.

I think that 2016 has been a year where Canberra has demonstrated we are a smart, intelligent community, who cares about each other and cares for the planet. Here are my picks for things that happened this year that make me so proud to be a Canberran.

Its hard to think about 2016 in Canberra without thinking about the ACT Territory election. Beyond the corflute wars, there were some pretty exciting things that happened. In particular, through the election campaign, Canberrans showed that they cared about the city they live in by putting up their hands to be part of democracy. A record 141 of us dedicated our time and talents to run as candidates, and thousands more got involved through volunteering for parties and supporting independent candidates. This shows a health in our democracy and a willingness for people to get involved in public service. In an age where cynicism about politics often means that people decide not to participate, we can be proud that our citizens were given real choices about the people they wished to be represented by. At the end of all this, we elected a majority female Legislative Assembly, with 52% female representation across from all parties represented in the Assembly. This is a first for our Assembly and something to be very proud of. It means our political decision makers better represent the diversity of our community and decision making will be better for it.

Through 2016 the ACT continued to demonstrate vision and leadership around climate change. We achieved tri-party support for a 100% renewable energy target by 2020. We showed this is achievable and put in place the measures to ensure we achieve this ambitious goal. In this, Canberra is not only leading Australia, but is also leading the world – something highlighted at the recent global climate change conference. More broadly it showed what can be achieved when people are committed to developing policy based on evidence, and working together collaboratively rather than letting partisan politics prevail.

Over the year, the ACT continued to lead the way in the protection of human rights. This included the introduction of safety exclusion zones to enable women accessing legal health care services such as termination services to do so free of harassment and intimidation. We saw the opening of Dhulwa Secure Mental Health Unit which provides 24 hour treatment and care to adults with complex mental health issues. We saw the ACT Government step up and provide local funding support to ensure that the Safe Schools anti-bullying program will be able to continue in line with the evidence of what works best to protect our young people.

We continued to lead the country in our rates of volunteerism. Across the community individuals volunteered many hours to sporting organisations, school parents and citizens committees, arts organisations, residents associations and community organisations. This contribution back to our community shows the rest of Australia that this city has not only a soul but also a big heart. Generosity has also prevailed through philanthropy with initiatives such as Hands Across Canberra, work to expand the Boundless All Abilities Play Ground and the Deakin Charity House.

So they are my picks of some of the things that have made Canberra great through 2016. What are yours?

What’s Your opinion?


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8 Responses to
2016 proves that Canberra has a brain, soul and heart
1
dungfungus 11:21 am
29 Dec 16
#

Specifically, why have Brexit and Trump’s election (neither of which have anything to do with Canberra) been a “difficult” events for the world?

Both were the result of democracy in action.

Because you may not agree with the outcomes means simply that you are in the minority.

2
Rebecca Vassarotti 3:05 pm
29 Dec 16
#

dungfungus said :

Specifically, why have Brexit and Trump’s election (neither of which have anything to do with Canberra) been a “difficult” events for the world?

Both were the result of democracy in action.

Because you may not agree with the outcomes means simply that you are in the minority.

Thanks for the comments. We live in a global world, so when reflecting on how we feel about 2016 I think that it is reasonable to reflect on events beyond our borders, as the directions of two of our closest global partners will affect us locally.

In relation to commenting that these are difficult global events, it was the case that these were both unexpected and have created real uncertainty – outside any view of the politics of them. Brexit has created significant uncertainty around the future of the Europe union, and the Trump election has created many questions on issues such as free trade.

As for the suggestion that the results are about democracy, well yes – a version of it. There has been analysis around how well democracy has been served by the US election, which saw less than 25% of the population vote for Trump, and more actual votes for Clinton. But that is the system they have so that is the result.

I didn’t get the chance to vote on either of these issues but I do have views about whether or not these are good results for these countries, the global community and here for us in Canberra. Whether or not these are a minority view, I don’t know.

3
bruce_lord 6:58 pm
29 Dec 16
#

I’m often surprised how many Canberrans feel more negative about a Brexit or Trump event than they feel about Tuggeranong having the worst schools or Kambah being the most mortgaged stressed area in the country.

That’s why other Australians think Canberrans live in a bubble of their own very nearby surrounds.

4
dungfungus 9:05 am
30 Dec 16
#

Rebecca Vassarotti said :

dungfungus said :

Specifically, why have Brexit and Trump’s election (neither of which have anything to do with Canberra) been a “difficult” events for the world?

Both were the result of democracy in action.

Because you may not agree with the outcomes means simply that you are in the minority.

Thanks for the comments. We live in a global world, so when reflecting on how we feel about 2016 I think that it is reasonable to reflect on events beyond our borders, as the directions of two of our closest global partners will affect us locally.

In relation to commenting that these are difficult global events, it was the case that these were both unexpected and have created real uncertainty – outside any view of the politics of them. Brexit has created significant uncertainty around the future of the Europe union, and the Trump election has created many questions on issues such as free trade.

As for the suggestion that the results are about democracy, well yes – a version of it. There has been analysis around how well democracy has been served by the US election, which saw less than 25% of the population vote for Trump, and more actual votes for Clinton. But that is the system they have so that is the result.

I didn’t get the chance to vote on either of these issues but I do have views about whether or not these are good results for these countries, the global community and here for us in Canberra. Whether or not these are a minority view, I don’t know.

A version of democracy is what the left calls “our side didn’t win”.

“Versions of democracy” closer to home were in the 2012 ACT election when Labor and the Liberals won 8 seats each and a Green won the 17 th seat.
Even though the Liberals polled more votes than Labor somehow they lost.

Going back further, what sort of a “version of democracy” was it when the voters in the ACT rejected twice by referendum self government but hey, we still got it.

5
Suzanne Kiraly 10:43 am
30 Dec 16
#

Thanks for this. I agree that as a community we have a heart and soul – and I would add to your list the number of business owners who also give back to the community. We are truly blessed!

6
Elias Hallaj (aka CB 10:50 am
30 Dec 16
#

Great article Rebecca! Thanks for taking the time to write down your considered thoughts and sharing it with us and other readers. I agree with most of what you’ve written and think your comparative local and global perspective serves as a timely reminder of how lucky we are in Australia, and in particular in Canberra. As we’ve watched the political and violent upheavals taking place around the world I think we can all agree, despite its many imperfections, the democracy we enjoy in the ACT is quite special.

As for Dungers’s opinions about the 2012 election and self government I’d like to contribute two responses:

1) the 2012 ACT election gave the current Labor/Green Cabinet a clear majority of popular support and (although I don’t usually like using the word) a popular mandate to implement its numerous successful policies, as did the 2016 election earlier this year. Anyone who thinks otherwise is either biased or lacking in understanding of how our local parliament and elections work.

2) Self government was decided many years ago. There have been numerous elections and parliaments since then. If you still really feel it’s a bad idea then put your money where your mouth is and either a) join a party and convince them to run it as part of their agenda, or b) start your own political movement around it. Personally I think either would be a waste of time, as is continually complaining about it.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! 🙂

7
Maryann Mussared 12:18 pm
30 Dec 16
#

I am just plain grateful to live in this beautiful city. I also appreciate having the democratic opportunity to occasionally voice my disapproval or concern over how it is governed.

8
dungfungus 12:46 pm
30 Dec 16
#

Elias Hallaj (aka CBRFoodie) said :

Great article Rebecca! Thanks for taking the time to write down your considered thoughts and sharing it with us and other readers. I agree with most of what you’ve written and think your comparative local and global perspective serves as a timely reminder of how lucky we are in Australia, and in particular in Canberra. As we’ve watched the political and violent upheavals taking place around the world I think we can all agree, despite its many imperfections, the democracy we enjoy in the ACT is quite special.

As for Dungers’s opinions about the 2012 election and self government I’d like to contribute two responses:

1) the 2012 ACT election gave the current Labor/Green Cabinet a clear majority of popular support and (although I don’t usually like using the word) a popular mandate to implement its numerous successful policies, as did the 2016 election earlier this year. Anyone who thinks otherwise is either biased or lacking in understanding of how our local parliament and elections work.

2) Self government was decided many years ago. There have been numerous elections and parliaments since then. If you still really feel it’s a bad idea then put your money where your mouth is and either a) join a party and convince them to run it as part of their agenda, or b) start your own political movement around it. Personally I think either would be a waste of time, as is continually complaining about it.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! 🙂

1) The the current Labor/Green Cabinet wasn’t formed until AFTER the 2012 election.

2) You have totally ignored my point about the way self-government was forced upon us and instead you attack me for “thinking it was a bad idea” and I should start my own political party/

Then you concede the current ACT “democracy” has many imperfections?

Please explain.

I said nothing like that

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