Putting the community first: Shane Rattenbury's campaign launch speech

This is a transcript of Shane Rattenbury's speech at the ACT Greens campaign launch. Please check against delivery.

I am so pleased to be here today as the ACT Greens launch our 2016 election campaign.

Welcome to you all, and thank you for your support.

Thank you to Christina Hobbs for her introduction. Christina is someone of great integrity and strength, someone who puts people first and someone who sees the challenges of our future. We owe her and all our wonderful Federal election candidates a great vote of thanks for the efforts they put in during the federal election campaign.

And we also owe thanks to all of you, our members and supporters. You are the backbone of this party, and I know that each and every one of you is passionate about your desire to see a better world, a fairer and more compassionate world, a greener world, and a world where we respond to the challenges that face us with honesty, intellect and compassion.

There is a lot at stake in this ACT election.

This election will be a choice for voters between a positive future vision for our city, or a negative campaign, fuelled by half-truths and deceit.

The Greens have a positive vision – a vision that puts the community first. We listen to the community and we represent the community. We are not a party for big business and vested interests.

The Greens believe in a Canberra that is inclusive and welcoming.

A Canberra where everyone is looked after. 

A Canberra that has high quality health care and education for all, no matter your income or postcode.

A Canberra that protects our local environment, and does our part as global citizens.

And we must be a community that tackles the ever growing gap between rich and poor.

With a presence in the Assembly since 1995, and balance of power since 2008, the ACT Greens have set the agenda for progressive politics in Canberra – from leading the nation on climate action, to our world-class renewable energy targets, to changing the conversation on light rail, we have so much to be proud of.

We have a clear vision of what the future looks like. We aren’t afraid of innovation and we aren’t afraid of change. We know that to meet the challenges that lie ahead we will need the support of our community.

We will not be bullied by the naysayers, who have no vision of – or for –  the future.

Those are the same naysayers who are threatening to tear up the contracts to stage one of the most exciting public transport development this city has ever seen.

We, the Greens, believe light rail will shape this city into the future. Our vision is for a 21st century transport network right across this city, and we will commit to delivering a second stage in the next term of the Assembly.

It will serve Canberra well into the future, and there will come a day where it will become clear that we made the right decision to get started on it now. And that the Greens put community first.

It was the Greens who put light rail on the agenda – and it is the Greens who will fight to protect it.

The Greens have of course been in a power-sharing government with the ALP this term. After four years of that arrangement, I can clearly say that this has been a government that has delivered progressive outcomes for the community, even though I haven’t agreed with every decision that has been taken. That is the prerogative of being the sole Green Minister in a Labor Cabinet.

But I also know people in the ACT have concerns about the ALP, about how long they have been in government, that they aren’t listening to the community, and that they put the interests of developers ahead of the community. I read the Letters to the Editor, I go to community events, and people say these things to me.

My response? That is why I am in the Greens.

I joined the Greens because I believe progressive politics can be done better. We don’t take our role in government for granted, and we don’t take the community for granted.

What we can be sure of is that the progressive voters of Canberra won’t get a government that reflects their values if the Canberra Liberals, probably one of the most conservative parties we’ve ever seen in the ACT, are elected.

We know that a Liberal government will take this city backwards.

They will rip up the light rail contracts, they will relegate the Canberra-wide light rail network to the rubbish bin, they will abandon climate action, they will put the big end of town ahead of the community, and they will bring their ultra-conservative agenda to every single area of policy.

They have no plans to deal with the challenges of the future. In fact, they no plan at all.

One thing is clear – the Liberals don’t believe in public transport.

They have only been drawn into developing a plan for Canberra’s buses as part of their constant scare campaign on light rail. The very fact that their so-called bus plan has not been costed and has no timetable for implementation tells you everything you need to know about how committed they are to that plan.

They have chosen light rail as their battle ground for this election. It will be the endless funding bucket for all their promises, and will take the blame for diverting money from every other cause in the ACT. They are demonising the light rail project on every front because it has become their political football that they kick around with wild abandon.

But just a few weeks ago Alistair Coe actually acknowledged Canberra would need light rail in 20 years. He belled the cat right there. The Liberals know that light rail is needed in Canberra. They are opposing it for a purely political agenda.

And it’s because of that we know that we cannot trust a word they say about light rail. The Liberals are a party that turns its back on the big challenges of the day. And worse than that, they will turn back on action to tackle those challenges.

We also need to be clear that progressive voters should be very careful to assess the true agendas of some of the minor parties at October’s ballot.

Remember the Community Alliance Party? One of their key candidates was Val Jeffery. Turns out he was a member of the Liberal Party the whole time he stood for them.

Mark Parton was an independent. Now he’s turned up with the Liberals as well.

And then there’s Richard Farmer, the former tobacco lobbyist who has now set up a party to front for the poker machine industry.

The people of the ACT do have an option to get better government in the ACT. They have a way of being listened to, getting better outcomes for the community and better thinking for the future.

They can vote Green. The Greens are the only choice for progressive voters who want to put the community first. With more Greens in the ACT Assembly there will be more politicians who are listening.

The Greens believe that politics should be about putting the community first. It is about people having a voice, and having their voice heard. 

This election you will see us putting ideas on the table that have been informed by the community. Today let me announce the first of them.


Taking on the vested interests

The Greens have always campaigned for transparency and better governance that builds trust in the processes of democracy. This week our nation leading Freedom of Information legislation will come before the Assembly.

We have always campaigned for clean elections and for banning donations from corporations to political parties. We believe that the community’s trust in government is paramount for government to succeed.

These are the fundamental differences between the other parties and the Greens.

It is why, at this election, we are announcing that we will establish an independent Integrity Commission that is responsible for maintaining the standards of conduct, propriety and ethics in the ACT’s public services and politicians.

The Integrity Commission will be given powers to conduct investigations into allegations of misconduct, and be able to continue investigations where criminality is suspected. It will also lead prevention through education and support for agencies.

The ACT is unusual in not having an independent investigative integrity body and we believe it is time for this to change. If we are truly putting the community first, then we must shine a spotlight in to the dark corners.


A plan for affordable housing

The Greens want young people to be able to afford a home.

We all know how important it is to have a home, but not everyone realises how much times have changed. The fact that this generation of home-leavers is the first that will be worse off than their parents, and are forecast to never be able to afford their own, should put affordable housing on the top of every government’s agenda.

We want young Canberrans to land on their feet.

We want them to be able to afford a house to live in, and to stay in Canberra doing the jobs they want to do.

Labor and the Liberals have had decades to address this, but they have failed.

It’s now up to the Greens to tackle this issue. It’s time to put people at the centre of housing – not developers.

The Greens will support new models of affordable housing that allow people to be involved in the shaping of their community and their developments. We want to foster new housing procurement models that disrupt the status quo, including bringing the Nightingale Housing Model to Canberra.

The Nightingale model reduces the cost of development and ensures that people can afford to live near their jobs, transport connections and family.

And as part of a focus on making things better for people who are renting, the Greens will set minimum standards for all rental properties to ensure that lessors aren't allowed to leave students, young families, vulnerable older people, or anyone in our community, shivering through winter and roasting in summer.

At the very least, houses will be mandated to have roof insulation and draught sealing to improve their comfort and their efficiency for renters.

Ensuring people can afford heating and cooling bills is another important way to make housing more affordable.


Pokies reform for Canberra

Looking after the most vulnerable means taking action on poker machines in this city.

The Greens are committed to protecting our community from gambling. And in Canberra, which has the rate of poker machines in the country, the ACT Greens will put the community first and reduce the number of poker machines by 30%.

We know that many of the clubs in the ACT are reliant on poker machine revenue, and we want to help them transition their business plans to continue to support our community.

But they must do this without the crutch of gambling profits and without inflicting huge social and personal damage on problem gamblers and their families.


Putting the community first

The Greens have a vision for Canberra that is driven by the community, for the community.

We’ll put the power back in your hands – not in the hands of big business, pokies and developers.

The Greens are the party of courage and community. That’s what our campaign will be about.

I’ll be working with all of our candidates to build on the wins we’ve already secured – from making Canberra a world-leader in clean energy to record investments in public transport.

To deliver an agenda that makes people's lives better, and builds equity in our community.

We’re committed, we’re ready, and we’ll put the community first.