As we swelter through the last days of 2019, it’s time for reflection and to think about our aspirations for 2020 – the beginning of the third decade of the century.
For 2020, I think we can work together to create a fairer and greener Canberra. I believe that by developing a joint vision, we can continue to be a community that proves what is possible and demonstrates the practical ways that we can protect people and the planet.
Canberrans are proud to be a progressive and inclusive community. We know, however, there is still so much to do. We know we need to do better in responding to people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. We know we can do more to provide a safety net for those who are doing it tough. We know we still have much to do to become a carbon-free city. We know there is work to do to restore the community’s faith in decision making.
In 2020, let’s resolve to make real progress to improve our housing affordability. The issue of homelessness and affordable rental continues to be a real challenge for our city.
The experience of the volunteer-run Safe Shelter this winter showed a sharp increase in the number of men accessing crisis accommodation. Recent reports continue to document our rental affordability problem.
In 2019, we did see investment and many people are keen to see the results of the Housing First initiative that was recently funded by the ACT Government and is aiming to assist people to get into housing quickly.
Commitments such as the Common Ground initiative in Dickson will be progressed through 2020 and should provide relief to some. The introduction of land tax exemptions for philanthropic landlords who wish to rent out their property at below-market rent has seen the emergence of two not-for-profit real estate agent schemes to support this program.
In 2020, let’s resolve to ensure fairer treatment of the lowest income households.
We don’t want to continue down the path that was highlighted in the reflection of poverty and disadvantage in the ACT since the first inquiry into poverty in 1999. This highlighted that the gap between those doing well and those doing it tough seems to be widening. We saw some moves in 2019 to respond to this system. This included the proposal by the ACT Green’s to move to a fairer fine system, which includes a penalty system based on people’s income and capacity to pay.
This is not about saying some people should dodge penalties, but instead it recognises that the current system basically means that through the payment of a fine, some activity essentially is legal for those who can afford it and illegal for those who can’t.
In 2019, the increase of the utility concession for healthcare holders has eased some pressure from electricity bills, but as the climate changes, we know there is more to do to ensure that low-income households are able to afford essential utility services. It will be important to commit to more action to ensure economic justice for people on low-incomes as a priority area of work in 2020.
In 2020, let’s resolve to show continued local leadership on responding to the global challenge of climate change.
As we deal with drought and bushfires and our drying climate, it’s clear that there is still much to do in relation to responding to climate change. The past year has been a real milestone in reaching our 2020 renewable electricity target, and the work has commenced on how we reach our target of zero carbon emissions by 2045.
We have proven as a city what is possible.
We have proven that our climate emission targets are far from aspirational goals, but instead are clear targets that direct investment can meet. Canberra is doing its bit around climate action.
Let’s work together to rebuild hope for our young people who, through their demands for climate action, have highlighted the failures of our national and global political leaders. Let’s show them what we can do as a community to create a sustainable, livable and connected city.
In 2020, let’s resolve to rebuild trust in our political leadership. It is undeniable that many people are disillusioned by the state of politics at a global and national level. One of my hopes for 2020 is that we see the results of increased accountability and transparency around political decision making at the local level will help to change this story. The commencement of the ACT Integrity Commission from 1 December 2019 is a significant step for the ACT and shows we are serious about transparency and accountability.
What are your New Year’s Resolutions for Canberra in 2020?
Rebecca is an active ACT Greens member and is an ACT Green’s candidate for the seat of Kurrajong in the 2020 election