Reflection of Achievements for Canberra in 2023

30 November 2023

In one of the last speaking opportunities I will have this year, I want to reflect on what a big year 2023 has been—the first full year of the Albanese Labor government. There is a lot to reflect on, on what we have achieved this year.

We've legislated a new climate change act. We've introduced the long-awaited National Anti-Corruption Commission, and the Housing Australia Future Fund is now up and running as well. Today the Minister for Climate Change and Energy delivered the Annual climate change statement—a really important part of our plan to keep governments accountable as we address this incredibly pressing issue into the future and update on the progress we've made, including an announcement last week around substantial underwriting of investment in renewables to really get that transition going. Today we also had the minister for housing and small business introduce the 'help to buy' legislation as well. Just today we have made some really key achievements.

Australians now have access to cheaper child care, cheaper medicines and fee-free TAFE. We've also tripled the bulk-billing incentive—the biggest investment in bulk-billing since the inception of Medicare—and I know this means so much to Canberrans; we have some of the lowest rates of bulk-billing in the country. We are really looking forward to the impact this will have on enabling people in my community to access bulk-billing.

Thanks to the work of my ACT colleague the Minister for Women, Katy Gallagher, Australia has jumped 17 places in the world for gender equality rankings, as Labor delivers the biggest investment in women in 40 years. Labor has listened to the experts and has accepted and is implementing the recommendations of the Respect@Work report, the robodebt royal commission, the disability royal commission and the royal commission into aged care. In all these areas the evidence was clear that urgent action was needed. Our government is not wasting a day in government. That is a really refreshing change from the last 10 years, where we saw a lot of neglect.

Another great thing we've done this year is invest in our national institutions, the majority of which are based here in Canberra, and give them the funding they need to continue doing what they do so well into the future and not have to worry about leaking roofs, cutting staff and things like that. It has been such an important thing, and this is not just for Canberra; it's for our whole nation.

That leads me to something else I want to reflect on: my work this year as the chair of the Joint Standing Committee on the National Capital and External Territories. We've been doing an inquiry into fostering the significance of the national capital. This has been a great opportunity for representatives of those national institutions, of local business, of local environment groups, of residents groups, of tourism groups and of sporting groups to come together and talk about their visions for our capital and our city, its incredibly important role as our nation's capital and the significance that that has nationally and internationally, and how we can build on that and how we can share all the wonderful things about our city even better with the rest of the country and the world. I'm looking forward to our committee making recommendations on that in the new year, and I really hope we'll see some important suggestions made based on the great work and contributions of those Canberrans who have been part of that.

Another major project I did locally this year was The Canberra Forum, an Australian-first deliberative democracy process which was very generously run for me by DemocracyCo, who are based in Adelaide and who designed this unique model. Over a period of six months we had 40 randomly selected Canberrans come together to discuss an issue—the one they chose was housing—and to make recommendations on that, which are published on my website.

As we come into the Christmas period, I want to give a shout-out, too, to our amazing small businesses in Canberra. They really are the life of our city and give it so much character, and we rely on them every day. So, when you're buying Christmas presents, please look to our small local businesses in Canberra and support them.

Lastly, I want to wish everyone in Canberra a safe and happy holiday season.