ACT QT: energizing youth vote

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After hours of debate on the Climate Change Greenhouse Gas Reduction Bill 2010 this morning, the members of the ACT Legislative Assembly were not ready to let the carbon go, kicking off Question Time with a round robin of energy asks.

From the expanded feed-in tariff to rising energy costs to greenhouse gas reduction, the chamber was jam-packed with jargon about what the Government is doing to reduce the ACT’s carbon emissions and what the Liberal Party don’t like about it (everything).

“They voted for the feed-in tariff!” Environment Minister Simon Corbell said at one point right before chaos broke out over a question that hadn’t been asked yet by Liberal MLA Vicki Dunne.

“Let’s hear the question from Mrs Dunne before we rule it out of order,” Speaker Shane Rattenbury said.

Dunne proceeded with something about “evil energy companies” and her colleague Alistair Coe followed up with a barrage of questions on rising energy costs associating with wider-scale adoption of renewable energy.

Hitting up the Government for info on bushfire prevention; assistance for homeless Canberrans who experience mental illness; re-offending former Bimberi detainees; NSW abdication from national OH&S standards; shifting education support for disabled kids from the Education Department to the Department of Disability, Housing and Community Services; and lots of stuff about young people.

In fact, the most interesting response to a question today was Andrew Barr’s heated tirade on young people and planning.

Barr has copped significant flack for his use of online media to discuss planning – a move which he says is aimed to engage younger Canberrans who are unlikely to partake in traditional Government organised community consultations – such as town hall style meetings.

“They are dominated by people who won’t be alive in the middle of this century,” Barr said.

Accusing the Liberal Party of only engaging with people in their last 20 years of life, Barr argued that the “same old voices” are being heard repeatedly in Canberra, from older sections of the population whose “selfishness sometimes astounds me”, when “the overwhelming majority of people in this city are young”.

What is really interesting about Mr Barr’s comments is how often of late he appears to be courting the youth vote – not a bad tactic given the demographics in his electorate and his obvious comfort with social media and skill in provoking debate online.

Finally, in relation the Greens MLA Caroline Le Couteur’s question and, for the benefit of Liberal MLA Jeremy Hanson, we here at the CityNews have not published any articles on the new recycling system at EPIC.


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