Earlier this week I announced that will not stand at the 2020 Assembly election.
It has been a real privilege to represent the people of Canberra in the ACT Assembly. I have been very lucky to be elected twice.
The overwhelming reason that I stood for election was climate change.
I am very proud to be one of the four Greens elected in 2008 who passed legislation committing the ACT to zero net emissions by 2050. It also committed the ACT to a 40 per cent reduction in emissions by 2020 and I’m also proud that we are on track to meet that.
The Greens put people and the planet at the heart of everything we do. We champion evidence-driven solutions to the major problems our community is now facing: a changing climate, environmental destruction and economic inequality.
With fourteen months until the next ACT election, there’s still so much to do. This is a crucial time for this Assembly – a time where the Greens’ unique role, both in Government and from the crossbench, is central to realising Canberra as the ‘greenest’ jurisdiction in Australia.
We’re facing a climate emergency – yet the Government still needs to act to deliver better building and energy efficiency standards, to ensure houses will be liveable in the warmer Canberra climate of the future. We need to build dwellings that suit our family sizes.
Families are smaller than 50 years ago while houses are twice as big. We need to leave green spaces for people and all the other species that we share Canberra with. We need more trees to keep Canberra the beautiful bush capital that it is.
These are some of the issues that I’ve advocated for and I will continue to push.
I also want to see a more compassionate and caring Canberra. There is a lot I want to achieve in the next 14 months.
The Greens have pushed for more public housing and to support the community to deliver affordable housing for all of us. As part of the Parliamentary Agreement, the Government created an affordable housing strategy. I now want to see them deliver it.
We’ve come a long way in realising stronger protections around issues like intimate images. Now, we need to act to finally change the definition of consent in the Crimes Act to make clear that ‘yes means yes’, and ‘no means no’.
We also need to realise significant electoral improvements including truth in political advertising, as well as banning developers and gambling entities from donating to political parties and candidates.
This was again raised last week: we need entertainment precincts in place now to ensure that we’re protecting Canberra’s nightlife. I’ve pushed for this for over a decade now. The Greens have had a long-term vision to this, and it’s time to get it done.
We know that the politics of old doesn’t work. The Greens consider every issue on its merits, and on the evidence. As a crossbench member, I will continue to hold the Government to account, and I will continue to stand up for our local community on issues that matter to them.
To young people, and young women in particular, I’d urge you to get involved in local politics. Take the word of an accidental politician when I say you won’t regret it. Know what you stand for, and you too can make a contribution to this fantastic green jurisdiction that we live in.
Bring on the next fourteen months!
Caroline Le Couteur is the ACT Greens Member for Murrumbidgee.