Emma Davidson, the new Minister for Disability, Justice Health, and Mental Health, and Assistant Minister for Families and Community Services, wants to take care of people and planet, she said in her inaugural speech last week.
“I am here today because I want to build social infrastructure as well as housing infrastructure,” Ms Davidson said. “I want to protect biodiversity. We can grow as a city without paving over the park and reserves that are home to the diversity of birds and plants and wildlife in our bush capital. I want us to reach zero net emissions well before 2045, and I want us to do this by transitioning to a renewable economy, a Green New Deal that leaves nobody behind.
“This world is changing, and we have a choice about how we manage that change. We can choose to do things differently.”
Emma Davidson succeeds Caroline Le Couteur as Green MLA for Murrumbidgee. She entered politics after many years working in the community on housing affordability, economic inequality, women’s health, and ending violence against women, and campaigning to protect green spaces, and for public education and healthcare.
She has been national convenor of the Women’s Electoral Lobby, and worked in social research and advocacy at the Women’s Centre for Health Matters and at Equality Rights Alliance. She is also a former member of the Woden Valley Community Council, and secretary at the Pearce Community Centre. She has managed online communications for the Australian Medical Association; been director of Information Management at Navy, worked in private sector software development; owned and managed a small retail business; and spent seven years working at Centrelink.
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Ms Davidson drew her listeners’ attention to the people affected by political issues – from the single mothers and old men needing better transport to the women and children in domestic violence crisis housing waiting for affordable, safe, long-term housing.
“I’ve spent so many hours analysing data about economic inequality in Canberra. But when I look at the spreadsheets, I don’t see numbers,” Ms Davidson said. “What I see are women working with no job security and for low pay in aged care, childcare, disability care, and the community sector. I see young people who lost their jobs in hospitality and retail because of COVID, just when they were thinking about moving out of home or starting university or making plans to see the world. I see the labour force permanently changed while housing costs continue to rise. I see capitalism failing.
“And when I look at our bush capital, I see tens of thousands of years of care and cultural history by the Ngunnawal, Ngambri, and Ngarigo people. I think about how interconnected our wellbeing is with the wellbeing of the environment we live in. When our world is burning around us, and we can’t breathe the air, I hear our planet crying out for help.”
But Ms Davidson was also optimistic that Canberrans young and old, great and small, could solve problems facing society.
“Canberra is a city filled with people who think deeply about our future, have amazing skills to contribute, and want to work together to make that better future happen,” Ms Davidson said. “These are the people I want to work with.
“So to all the community groups and not-for-profits caring for people and planet, I am here for you. To those people who want to reset housing affordability, create green jobs, ad shift our thinking to truly value care work, I am here for you. To all the Canberrans who believe we are stronger together and that all of us should have the opportunity and support to live a full and meaningful life, I am here for you. Because together, we will create the future we dream of.”
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