11 March 2022

Shaped by loss and empathy: Andrew Braddock is the politician who won't play politics

| Lottie Twyford
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Andrew Braddock

ACT Greens MLA Andrew Braddock knows only too well how many people hide and hold personal tragedies in their hearts. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Andrew Braddock wears many hats.

He’s a father to two young daughters, a part-time carer for his wife who has mental and physical disabilities, a passionate advocate for Gungahlin – and a Greens MLA.

When asked how he juggles it all, he responds with one word: “badly.”

“I just try to do my best,” Mr Braddock said.

“There are definitely times when I feel like I’m not succeeding either as a parent, a husband, or as an MLA – or all three at the same time.”

He’s acutely aware of the working-parent juggle faced by many families and he leans on extended family for additional support.

Knowing when to take a step back and take some time out is important for Mr Braddock. He knows all too well what his limits are, having battled depression in the past.

He’s also no stranger to tragedy and loss.

In 2013, his first child, Connor Jack Braddock, was stillborn.

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It’s also given Mr Braddock a deep-rooted sense of empathy for the many struggles and personal tragedies that happen behind closed doors and are carried silently in people’s hearts.

“It really gives me the sense that life isn’t always going to plan and going to be a box of roses and chocolates. There are so many people who have their own troubles,” he said.

Before entering the Legislative Assembly, Mr Braddock was a self-described ordinary Canberran.

Like many, he moved to the capital, in his case from Brisbane, to work in the Australian Public Service and had a four-bedroom house in the ‘burbs, a wife, two children, and two dogs, with “no interest whatsoever in politics”.

But being a father to twin daughters – two-years-old at the time – got him thinking about what their Canberra would look like when they grew up.

The Gungahlin resident also held concerns about climate change, urban development, and infrastructure (or a lack of it) on his side of town.

“So here we are. I went from zero interest in politics to running a major campaign,” Mr Braddock said.

He also became extremely invested in and passionate about the major light rail debates in 2015. He realised he couldn’t stand by and let the arguments go around without getting involved.

Greens MLAs

Mr Braddock ( left) with colleagues Johnathan Davis, Rebecca Vassarotti, Shane Rattenbury, Emma Davidson and Jo Clay. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Picking the Greens was an obvious choice for him. Largely, this was due to how aligned he felt the party’s climate action policies were with “the science” and his own values.

In 2019, Mr Braddock ran third for the Federal election in the seat of Fenner behind Labor’s Andrew Leigh and Liberal Leanne Castley.

He’d been unsuccessful in securing a seat in what was then a newly formed electorate of Yerrabi at the 2016 election, but his luck changed in 2020 with a 3.1 per cent swing to the Greens.

As a representative of the rapidly growing electorate of Yerrabi as it experiences ‘teething problems’ around infrastructure and services, Mr Braddock is proving himself a passionate advocate for his community.

He’s especially concerned about ensuring green spaces are available and accessible for the community to enjoy, acknowledging that as the area is “slightly denser” than the rest of Canberra, and as many of the houses have smaller gardens, this will become increasingly important.

Yerrabi Pond

Mr Braddock is passionate about ensuring green spaces like Yerrabi Pond can be enjoyed by Gungahlin residents long into the future. Photo: Peter Kenworthy.

Mr Braddock is deeply interested in what he sees as “implementing the Greens values at the local level” and wants to stay connected to the community he represents, whether that’s helping people get trees planted where they want to see them, attending community events, or catching up with locals at a coffee shop.

As an MLA, Mr Braddock hopes to do many things.

Among them is lowering the voting age to 16. He’s also passionate about working on the government’s ‘better suburbs’ promise and working with communities to see what people want from their local areas.

Mr Braddock also wants serious consideration of how to increase Canberrans’ participation in and awareness of the local political process.

But one thing he’s adamant he won’t do during his term is play politics.

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ilovecanberra11:53 am 15 Mar 22

Lovely to hear about a non politician who ran for election to ensure a good life and good future for everyone’s children. Good on you Mr Braddock. We need more people like you in government.

Plenty of people in the same boat as him, but earn a fraction of his very generous salary

ilovecanberra11:50 am 15 Mar 22

You could join him in the Assembly if you are passionate about helping people.

Base MLA pay is around $170k.

Considering the responsibilities and workload, the last thing I’d call it is “generous”.

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