My vote before & after the candidates meeting


I share with many others the dilemma of how to vote in the coming ACT elections.

The time has come to focus on an answer.

This post comes in two parts. The first part will reflect my thoughts on voting before I attend the Meet The (Kurrajong) Candidates meeting Tuesday 20th Sept. Then after the meeting, I will add the last part reflecting changes to my thoughts on the candidates.

This section was written before the Tuesday meeting.

Here are the issues I am looking to be addressed – and I realise that I need to look for the best match rather than anything perfect.

The tram is not a big issue for me. It makes sense now as it did decades ago. Arts and cultural activities are important as they are to so many people in this city (but not to most candidates). Health, education, housing and related social issues all remain essential and top priority. There is no question that Canberra should lead on climate change, including how we develop and redevelop urban areas. Forget ‘Green Wash‘ (being how many green stars) – Canberra should be a leader on addressing these issues through how we build houses, other buildings and open spaces (even more trees).

There is a priority to completely change the way planning and development happens. We need to put more into creating and maintaining parks, open spaces and to enhancing all the urban public areas including the shopping centres. The city has to adjust to having more intense residential development – that’s a given. The real issue is how it is delivered and that it should be about design, aesthetics, neighbourhood character and enhancing public open spaces.

We need to get rid of all the potentially corrupt practices such as party donations and more. In fact all gift giving and invites to industry functions should be banned for politicians and the bureaucrats.

Under the ACT electoral system, we have to select at least five candidates – so for the new seat of Kurrajong I aim to settle on at least six. I hope to allocate my first votes to at least three women.

Marea Fatseas is wobbly on the tram, but very good on most of other issues. She has hard earned experiences with planning and development, and knows what is required.  Being committed to ‘listen, engage, represent‘ sounds good. Her pamphlet is the best designed so far – so she gets a vote despite being weird on the tram.

Rebecca Vassarotti (Greens) lives nearby in Dickson (surely a reason for a vote) and is extra strong on many housing and social issues.

There’s vote out there for another female candidate for Kurrajong. Is there someone with an interest in the arts?

Shane Rattenbury (Greens) ticks many boxes especially for occasional interventions on some nasty Urban Development proposals – trees in Dickson, Manuka, Yarralumla and more.

Mike Hettinger has been a leader on neighbourhood issues through the North Canberra Community Council (NCC). He definitely deserves to be supported. He has more than earned it.

There’s another vote looking for a candidate.

I looked with interest at what the Liberals released on planning. Much of it was reasonable. But there are crazy things such as turning Civic’s open spaces back into streets for cars. I also cannot accept their fundamentalist opposition to trams given it is just one aspect of the future transport mix for Canberra. As for increasing the roles of the ACT Architect and the need for a Chief Engineer – that needs a rethink. This is the bush capital – being more about open spaces, urban areas and integrated design – it requires a different style of leadership (environmental and landscape design oriented) who would then seek advice from those nominated professionals.

The present Labor politicians have looked the other way whenever their Leader has said strange things about older residents and when he talks about residents in the context of questionable planning and development proposals. Andrew Barr’s pavement signs have just started to appear. His clichéd slogan ‘Energy and Ideas’ reminds us that he does not understand how to engage with residents. The new Labor candidates have not struck a chord – yet.  So no votes there so far.

There are many other candidates – but so far I have not researched them.

So before the meeting, my votes are heading for: Marea Fatseas, Rebecca Vassarotti, Shane Rattenbury, Mike Hettinger  and still to decide on one more or maybe two.

This second section was written after the meeting.


What changed? Not much really. I suspect that not many of the other 160 people at the meeting will be changing their votes based on this meeting with these 17  Kurrajong candidates.

Andrew Barr sounded reasonable at times, but lost the audience when he stated that planning was still fine as there was still an independent authority ‘under present legislation’. What he did not say was that the legislated mechanisms of the authority are there in theory only. There were polite mumbles when he fudged several answers to planning.

Shane Rattenbury spoke with confidence and answered some tricky questions very well. Steve Despot tried hard to make the tram issue the answer for everything. He did not perform well.

Both Marea Fatseas and Rebecca Vassarotti were convincing. Rebecca got a bonus point from me because she took a question about the arts – and she said that the arts are something she is often asked about. The other person who attempted an arts answer was Leah Dwyer (Labor). She sort of got it right – well almost.

There were many other candidates present. The best entertainment came from Peter Robinson in his answer on trade. He ignored the question and instead gave a passionate and entertaining stage like performance as to why he should be Chief Minister. The audience gave him a loud applause.

So my votes are the same as before the meeting and in the same order: Marea Fatseas, Rebecca Vassarotti, Shane Rattenbury, Mike Hettinger  and I may now consider Leah Dwyer as the fifth name (maybe).

There’s still a week or so to go. I am still not totally settled. My research continues, so anything is possible.

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