Meet Canberra’s newest – or most likely – MLAs

Dominic Giannini 20 October 2020
Andrew Barr, Marisa Paterson and Yvette Berry

Chief Minister Andrew Barr and Deputy Chief Minister Yvette Berry welcome one of Labor’s newest MLAs, Dr Marisa Paterson (centre). Photo: Dominic Giannini.

At least six new faces will enter the Legislative Assembly after Saturday’s ACT Election – and possibly as many as eight.

Two new MLAs are replacing the retired Vicki Dunne and Caroline Le Couteur, some managed to steal a seat off their opponents while others managed to garner enough votes from their own party to unseat an incumbent member.

So who are they?

  • The Greens
    • Emma Davidson
    • Andrew Braddock
    • Rebecca Vassarotti
    • Jo Clay
    • Johnathon Davis.
  • Labor
    • Dr Marisa Paterson
    • Taimus Werner-Gibbings.
  • Canberra Liberals
    • Leanne Castley
    • Peter Cain.

The Greens had their most successful election campaign with the party likely to pick up five seats, and possibly six, after recording a 3 per cent swing towards them.

Four new faces likely to join the Greens’ in the Assembly are Emma Davidson, Rebecca Vassaroti, Jo Clay and Andrew Braddock. Shane Rattenbury also retained his seat in Kurrajong.

Emma Davidson

New Greens MLA Emma Davidson. Photo: Dominic Giannini.

Emma Davidson retained the Greens’ Murrumbidgee seat after Ms Le Couteur retired from the Assembly. Ms Davidson previously failed to take a seat in Murrumbidgee at the 2016 election.

Before being elected, Ms Davidson worked in IT at the Department of Defence, was the owner of Brindabella Baby and, most recently, was the Deputy CEO for the Women’s Centre for Health Matters.

She is also the current national convenor of the Women’s Electoral Lobby.

“[My priority] is making sure we deliver on what we said and making sure we have community services that everyone can get access to, to help them live a full and meaningful life,” Ms Davidson said.

Ms Davidson was also a regular contributor to The RiotACT.

Andrew Braddock

Greens’ Andrew Braddock managed to pick up a seat in Yerrabi. Photo: Dominic Giannini.

Yerrabi’s newest Green, Andrew Braddock, said he decided to run for the Legislative Assembly because climate change “scares the hell out of out me” and he wants to be able to tell his children that he did everything he could in the face of the climate emergency.

Mr Braddock, an environmental engineer and a public servant, also worked as the secretary of the Gungahlin Community Council, and deputy chairman of his local primary school board.

“An alternative voice has been missing in Yerrabi and that is what I wish to pursue over the next term,” he said.

“For me, it is all about climate change. We have done a fantastic job with renewable electricity but now there is so much hard work to do in terms of getting off gas, how we get rid of the transport emissions and I am looking forward to working with the Greens team to be able to do that.”

Rebecca Vassarotti

Rebecca Vassarotti looks likely to take a second seat for the Greens in Kurrajong. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Rebecca Vassaroti looks likely to pick up a second seat for the Greens in Kurrajong, unseating the Liberals’ Candice Burch. Ms Vassarotti works as an independent consultant in the not-for-profit community and health sectors and serves as a community member of ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

She was a founder and inaugural co-chair of the Canberra Gambling Reform Alliance and was on the Board of the Gambling and Racing Commission where she advised on the issues of harm minimisation and problem gambling until March 2017. She was also executive director at the YWCA of Canberra for a decade.

For many years, Ms Vassaroti also had a weekly column in The RiotACT.

Jo Clay

ACT Greens candidate Jo Clay looks likely to secure a seat in Ginninderra. Photo: Dominic Giannini.

As it comes down to the wire for Attorney-General Gordon Ramsay and the Liberals’ Peter Cain in Ginninderra, the Greens’ environmental spokesperson Jo Clay appears to have secured a seat in the Belconnen-based electorate.

Ms Clay runs the recycling company Send and Shred which picks up shredded sensitive material from homes and offices and recycles it.

She studied law and creative writing at the University of Wollongong and although she did not practise law, Ms Clay is an author, having published a romantic zombie comedy.

Marisa Paterson

Dr Marisa Paterson secured more votes than her party colleague, Bec Cody. Photo: Dominic Giannini.

Labor’s Dr Marisa Paterson managed to surprise the party and herself by taking a Labor seat in Murrumbidgee, replacing former Labor backbencher Bec Cody.

Before being elected, Dr Paterson worked as a researcher at ANU, specialising in Indigenous gambling issues, gambling policy and public health approaches.

The mother-of-three and Weston Creek resident is also the director of the Centre for Gambling Research. She holds a PhD in Anthropology.

Jonathan Davis and Taimus Werner-Gibbings

There is only a handful of votes between the Greens’ Jonathan Davis (left) and Labor’s Taimus Werner-Gibbings (right). Photo: Region Media.

It is looking increasingly more likely that the final seat in the Tuggeranong-based electorate of Brindabella will come down to the Greens’ former federal candidate for Bean, Johnathan Davis, and Dr Andrew Leigh’s former media advisor Taimus Werner-Gibbings.

Mr Davis has failed to win a seat after running in the 2012 and 2016 ACT elections, and 2019 federal election, while Mr Werner-Gibbings also failed to secure a seat in 2016.

Mr Werner-Gibbings worked as the chief-of-staff to the former-Labor senator for Tasmania, Lisa Singh, before she lost her seat last year.

Mr Davis worked in real estate as a senior sales consultant and auctioneer for Carter and Co.

Leanne Castley

Leanne Castley is set to replace former Yerrabi Liberal James Milligan. Photo: Facebook.

Mother-of-two, car and motorbike enthusiast and country singer Leanne Castley has replaced her Liberal colleague James Milligan in the Gungahlin-based electorate of Yerrabi.

Ms Castley ran against Dr Leigh at the 2019 federal election.

Peter Cain and Gordon Ramsay

The Liberals’ Peter Cain (left) and Attorney-General Gordon Ramsay (right) are fighting it out for the final seat in Ginninderra. Photo: Facebook / Region Media.

If Peter Cain manages to secure a second seat for the Liberals in Ginninderra, the former teacher and school principal would effectively end – or at least put on ice – the political career of the current ACT Attorney-General Gordon Ramsay.

The father of seven currently manages the tax disputes section at ACT Revenue Management and was a vice president of the Law Society for three-years until last month.

The AEC says the count will be finalised on Saturday.


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