Five years ago, Andrew Braddock, the new Greens member for Yerrabi, told his wife – “an exhausted mother of two-year-old twins” – that he had joined the Greens because he wanted to run as a candidate, and work in the Legislative Assembly to save the world.
“Thank you for not leaving me that night,” he said in his inaugural speech earlier this month.
Mr Braddock is the Greens spokesperson for Better Neighbourhoods, Corrections, Democracy, Integrity and Community Engagement, Multicultural Affairs, Police and Emergency Services, Workplace Safety and Industrial Relations.
An environmental engineer and former public servant, he has been secretary of the Gungahlin Community Council and deputy chairman of his local primary school board.
“Practical, tangible, on-the-ground outcomes to create a better future for our community will resonate with this simple MLA,” Mr Braddock said.
He promised to be an alternative voice for Yerrabi. Gungahlin was a new district; from a sheep paddock 30 years ago, it had become home to 81,000 people.
“Be proud of our still building suburbs, home to so many people new to Canberra; proud of our green spaces; revel in the finest playgrounds; embrace the many cultures coming together, and the opportunities that abound in such a setting,” he said.
As a representative of a diverse electorate (38 different nationalities at his children’s school), Mr Braddock said he would ensure that the multicultural community was heard.
Gungahlin could leverage the light rail, integrating walking and cycling, to reduce car dependency, he said. “This is key to creating a healthier, more liveable and convenient city.”
Gungahlin residents had also called for more green and community spaces, a diverse range of services, and opportunities for employment.
Mr Braddock said he had no ambition to join politics until five years ago.
“My journey to the Assembly was a circuitous one; albeit on reflection I see a number of life challenges that have led me to this point,” he said.
Those life challenges include ‘faltering’ when faced with climate change in his 20s; the stillbirth of a son; caring for a wife with mental and physical disabilities; his own experiences with depression; and the birth of twins.
“It opened my eyes to how we are mere temporary caretakers of our environs,” he said. “And that in time we pass on the baton of responsibility to our children.”
Mr Braddock said he would be judged by himself, by history, by the voters of Yerrabi, and by his children.
“Once they become aware of the state of our climate, I will need to look them in the eye, and be answerable to them,” he said. “If you think I will be alone in the dock, you are very much mistaken. We will all be judged together.
“Because it is the future of my children, of all children, that is at stake. Normal doesn’t cut it any more. We congratulate ourselves on 100% renewable electricity. It is not enough. Natural disasters, bushfire, smoke, and pandemic are our new normal. This last decade, the hottest on record, will be the coolest decade for the remainder of the century. …
“I want to pass on a better future for our next generation. And so, my promise to this Assembly, to my children, and to all of our children is I will single-handedly apply myself to this issue every day that I have the privilege to serve here.
“Because the future is not fixed. We have opportunity here to craft something better. And we need to do just that.”
Others in this series:
- A Green voice for the working class: Johnathan Davis’s first speech
- We are in a climate emergency: Jo Clay’s first speech
- Action and advocacy: Dr Marisa Paterson’s first speech
- Fighting for Canberra’s family battlers: Leanne Castley’s first speech
- Creating a better future: Emma Davidson’s first speech
- Senior lawyer enters ACT politics: Peter Cain’s first speech
- From the community sector to politics: Rebecca Vassarotti’s first speech