29 September 2023

Time for candidates to step up - the Assembly needs you

| Ian Bushnell
Start the conversation
Legislative Assembly

The Legislative Assembly’s poor performers need to be turfed out. Photo: Region.

The ACT election is now just a little over a year away, and Chief Minister Andrew Barr, certain to become our longest-serving chief minister next year, expects most of his team to run again.

Speaker Joy Burch won’t be one of them, and it would be good for the Assembly if a couple more reconsidered their futures as MLAs.

It is no secret that I believe Mick Gentleman should also call time, but there are others whose effectiveness is questionable.

READ ALSO Adults urged to make a will, as life for those you leave behind can become a ‘struggle’ without one

The Liberals, who appear to be continuing their internal battles, are nowhere near the competitive state they should be in only a year out from the poll.

That seems to be part of the row over preselections being pushed back to next year, which will diminish the campaign window.

But they need fresh faces too, the sort of candidates who reflect the community they want to represent and take the party away from their perceived stubbornly held right-wing positions, despite Leader Elizabeth Lee’s best intentions.

And they should detail some positive policies.

The Liberals’ continued flirtation with federal members and sections of the media who attempt to undermine the rights of Canberrans and wage culture wars against the ACT only alienates them further from the electorate.

The Greens were big winners in 2020, but the gloss has come off. Being in government has made life difficult for their ministers, particularly Emma Davidson in the perennially difficult mental health portfolio, and she may struggle to be re-elected.

The 2020 poll did inject fresh blood into the Assembly, but in three years, much of that potential has not been realised.

Andrew Barr and Mick Gentleman

Chief Minister Andrew Barr is the power behind his ministers, including Planning Minister Mick Gentleman, who should make way for someone new. Photo: Claire Fenwicke.

Mr Barr remains dominant and any kind of Labor succession plan appears to have been shelved; the Liberals look as far from government as ever; and the Greens, despite their activism, have not converted that election night energy into the momentum to maintain or improve their standing.

Voters should judge harshly those who have stuck around too long or have not measured up. Just being a first-termer should be no guarantee of getting a further four years on the public payroll.

One of the advantages of the Hare Clark system is that party candidates are in a contest with their colleagues as much as against the other parties.

READ ALSO KFC breastfeeding case should put employers on notice

The question is, can the major parties deliver the candidates of a calibre that would lift the standard of administration and policy development and debate?

The door is open for community-based independents like a David Pocock, who can offer new ideas and make alliances to give the parties a run for their money.

The Senator’s campaign could be the template for a go-getter with a profile and community links.

Voters are looking for options, whether that be from new faces from within the parties or elsewhere.

Are there any out there who are willing to chance their arm?

Start the conversation

Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.