Kim Fischer

Antony Green may be wrong about ACT’s new seats

I take a look at the possibilities for Canberra’s federal seat redistribution and suggest the ‘sandwich’ approach taken when we last had three seats in 1994 is no longer a good fit for the ACT 25 years on:

… this would ignore both the natural geographic features used to form the seats, and the social developments in Canberra over the past 25 years.

Electorates boundaries are drawn taking both size and community factors into consideration. The AEC must consider physical features, where people live and work, and how they travel. It is not just a matter of getting out a pen and a ruler.

Read full article

The universal right to shelter

Speech given to ACT Labor Annual Conference (29 July 2017)

Delegates

Today, we are each taking time out of our weekend to try and make the world a better place. The values and principles we are debating today define Labor as the party which is prepared to commit to big ideas to solve big problems.

We fight for universal health care and we should equally fight for a universal right to shelter.

There is no more fundamental human right than access to safe and secure shelter, yet in the ACT we have the second-highest rates of homelessness in the country.

How is it that we have 2000 homeless people living in Canberra, while the Federal Government has nearly 200,000 square metres of unoccupied government offices in Canberra alone?

The only thing standing between homeless people and opening up government offices is bureaucracy and a lack of political will.

In Canberra’s cold July, the lack of action in opening up those government offices, just a third of which could shelter all of Canberra’s homeless, is unacceptable and cruel.

According to the most recent Productivity Commission statistics, in the ACT we fail to provide accommodation solutions to more than 34% of people seeking accommodation support. 16% of people requiring homelessness assistance are migrants from countries where English is not the main spoken language – almost double the national average.

I acknowledge the ACT government is looking into housing affordability and homelessness, and I hope that opening up of government offices is part of that solution.

Delegates, I urge you to support this amendment.

Belconnen and Gungahlin may soon get their own federal parliamentarian

In my Canberra Times article, I discuss the likelihood of the ACT getting a third seat in the Federal Parliament at the next election:

With strong growth taking Canberra’s population past 400,000, the ACT may be allocated a third federal seat this year. Like in 1996, there is a chance that this third seat will only exist for a single parliamentary term. Any new representative will have a strong incentive to ensure Canberra continues to thrive and grow, so as to lock in this extra seat.

Read full article

Open up empty government offices to the homeless

In my latest Canberra Times article, I argue that there is a compelling argument for reusing empty government offices in the ACT as temporary housing for the homeless instead of being left idle:

As the repurposing of the Addison Hotel in Sydney shows, we can make better use of vacant buildings to address homelessness. It would certainly be a far more effective use of taxpayers’ money than letting leased buildings remain idle. All that is needed is political determination, some smart planning and willingness to act.

Read full article

National Capital Authority needs to rethink its purpose

We need to have a broader discussion about how the NCA can work better for us. In my latest Canberra Times article I outline the challenges for the NCA in finding a new role:

The National Capital Authority is at a crossroads. For it to maintain a legitimate oversight and governance role in Canberra, it needs to step up and become a strong voice for local residents and the ACT government within the federal government.

Read full article

Benefits of expanding the Assembly

The 2016 Legislative Assembly will be a really positive turning point for the Territory, with its expansion to 25 members and 5 electorates. I am genuinely excited to see the results:

I have to admit I find it baffling and frustrating that nearly 30 years on, people are still hoping for a return to the days of the NCDC when we had no democratic representation on decision-making. The rivers of gold from the Federal Government were going away anyway. At least under self-government we have the ability to vote for people who can represent our hopes and desires for Canberra.

Read full article

Fairer Federal representation for the ACT

I discuss a topic I have been passionate about for more than 10 years – fairer representation for the ACT in the Federal Parliament:

The ACT does not have any [guarantees to representation] in the Constitution (like all other Territories including the Northern Territory, Christmas Island, and Norfolk Island). For years, Territories have been under-represented despite the implicit constitutional goal of providing all States and Territories with fair rights to representation.

Read full article

More to do on affordable housing

In my latest RiotACT article, I discuss some of the things being done by the ACT government to improve the status of affordable housing, and what more can be done:

The ACT government is ahead of the game in implementing the majority of the changes recommended by the 2015 Federal Government Senate Committee on housing affordability: reducing stamp duty, implementing shared equity schemes and land rent schemes, and supporting increases in community housing programs.

We can always do more. With high office vacancy rates in Canberra at the moment, the ACT Property Council has pointed out that other capital cities convert lower-grade office space into “apartments, hotels, and senior’s housing developments” …

View full article

Understanding bad online behaviour

In my latest RiotACT article, I discuss why some people feel they can say things on the Internet that they wouldn’t say in person:

After the fact, many people claim that the posts were “just a joke” or “taken out of context” or even that “someone hacked my computer”. While not excusing their behaviour, they may have been subject to what the US psychologist Dr John Suler calls the online disinhibition effect.

Read full article