Canberra Progressives: against all odds

There are many small parties on the ballot paper. The major parties are so strong and people’s voting patterns so fixed that, as a minor party, it takes a special kind of dedication, idealism, and positivism to bother turning up. The Canberra Progressives seem to be gaining pace at the 2020 ACT Election.

Who?

“The Canberra Progressives are a political party which values ethics over influence, evidence over opinion, and collaboration over collusion.  We want politics that builds community, and encourages people to be part of the change they want to see in Canberra.”

Canberra Progressives, 20/9/2020

Small parties cannot afford to cover all eletorates, so the Canberra Progressives do just three: Kurrajong, Murrumbidgee and Yerrabi.

Murrumbidgee is an interesting electorate this year. There are forces at work that could see a backlash against ACT Labor and the well known candidate for the ACT Greens has retired. In the great ACT north/south divide Murrumbidgee is somewhere in between.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Robert Knight

Robert Knight is leading the charge in the Murrumbidgee.

“I’m Robert Knight, a Canberran by birth who left town at 18 years of age to pursue a career in the Australian Defence Force. After 21 years of service living and working in all corners of Australia, and some overseas as well, it was an easy choice to come home and raise a family here. Canberra is a great city and my family and I love living here, but I think it should be an even greater place to live – for all of us. I’m concerned about growing inequality, particularly when it comes to housing affordability and the cost of living. I’m frustrated by our Government who seem to think they don’t have to pay attention to us, and the ineffective opposition doing nothing to hold them to account. I’m running because I think I can do a better job. I reckon we all say ‘enough’ with self interested politicians, and Demand Better. We deserve it”

Canberra Progressives Candidates, 20/9/2020
Photo by Anni Roenkae on Pexels.com

Positioning

Considering Canberra Liberal voters will unlikely vote for progressives, the votes can only come from the other two major parties.

How are you different from Australian Labor?

“The Canberra Progressives insist upon equality and commit to engagement with the whole community. We believe in the rights of business owners, especially small business owners. We acknowledge that both employers‘ and workers‘ rights are equally important.

We demand anti-corruption measures form part of the parliamentary accountability model. We also demand the end of private money in our election process. We believe the integrity of our parliamentary democracy is more important than any individual need, election campaign or loyalty to partisan politics. We do believe in and support the pursuit of equitable access to quality universal healthcare and education.”

Canberra Progressives FAQs, 20/9/2020

How are you different from The Greens?

“We are fully committed to introducing policies designed to arrest the decline of our environment and ecosystems, and horrifying rate of extinction of our native flora and fauna.

However, we believe that people and communities who have long been dependent on ecologically unsustainable industries and practices need to be fully engaged in creating solutions. The resolutions we collectively pursue must ensure all industries are empowered with self-determination for their economic futures on the path to change.

We believe evidence is far more important than opinion, and we will always remain ready to change our approach to complex issues when reliable evidence and community input demands it.”

Canberra Progressives FAQs, 20/9/2020
Photo by Adrianna Calvo on Pexels.com

Platform

  • Affordable Housing and addressing homelessness 
  • World leaders in waste management 
  • Genuine community engagement 
  • Reduced rates burden 
  • Political integrity 
  • Meeting our future health demands
  • The establishment of a Minister for Business 

Urban planning and transport are particularly interesting for canberra.bike as they go hand in hand. Strangely, Canberra Progressives do not mention their support of the light rail specifically on the website. The Conservation Council ACT Election Forum would suggest they do but it would be worth clarification.

Smarter urban planning – incorporating socially, and environmentally sensitive design principles to ensure public amenity and community assets are prioritised.

Rebalancing the transport budget – Spend an equal amount of money on active and public transport as we do on roads, rather than the very lopsided, roads only approach we currently have.

Canberra Progressives Platform, 20/9/2020

Urban planning

Better Building and Planning

> Revise land use policy.

> Close development loopholes.

> Raise minimum standards.

> Stick with agreed plans.

> Pursue developers who do the wrong things.

Canberra Progressives, Better Services, 20/9/2020

Transport

At canberra.bike the only focus is on cycling. The world is a simple place here.

Increase Active Transport

> Develop a comprehensive cycling & active transport infrastructure plan.

> Incentivise electric bike use as an alternative to motor vehicles.

> Develop more recreational cycling and walking trails across the ACT.

Canberra Progressives, Better Services, 20/9/2020
Photo by Roberto Nickson on Pexels.com

Pedal Power ACT survey

Canberra Progressives answered the Pedal Power ACT survey.

  1. Will your party support a comprehensive condition assessment of the entire ACT path network, and a rolling program of proactive maintenance? Yes, absolutely. The Canberra Progressives’ policy is to rebalance the transport infrastructure budget overall, so that active transport attracts significantly more funding than it currently does. We also have a policy to build a comprehensive cycling & active transport infrastructure plan.
  2. Will your party commit to supporting a rapid, separated cycling corridor between Woden and the city? Yes, absolutely. We see obvious benefits in encouraging residents of j to work via bike rather than car.
  3. Will your party support an increase in the capital budget for active travel to enable further development of Canberra’s path network, including improved connections, reduced path congestion, and upgrades to unsafe intersections? Yes, absolutely. We’d love to significantly increase the uptake of cycling, and making it safer and more efficient to do so will be a priority.
  4. Will your party support legislating specific targets to increase cycle commuting during the term of the next government? The Canberra Progressives won’t commit to legislated targets, but will advocate for mission oriented policy to drive an increase in cycle commuting.
  5. How will your party fund or support the promotion and incentivisation of commuting by bike? The Canberra Progressives will advocate for a rebalancing of transport infrastructure investment away from major roadways, and towards active transport infrastructure more generally. We will also advocate for the incentivisation and possibly subsidisation of electric bikes as an alternative to motor vehicle use.
  6. Will your party support ongoing funding for a program of education and enforcement of minimum passing distance laws? Absolutely. We know the evidence shows these laws save lives, so we will support these efforts.
  7. Will your party develop/support a program of works for ACT country roads, based on an assessment of risk, to improve rider safety? Our focus at this stage would be on improving the urban outcomes for commuters as a priority.
  8. How will your party develop or support initiatives to increase the number of cycling visitors and their length of stay in Canberra? The Canberra Progressives would like to see the development of cycle tourism in the ACT through long term investment in cycling infrastructure more broadly, and in off-road cycling trails such as that at Stromlo Forest. We’d also see it integrated within a broader economic development and revitilisation plan.
  9. Will your party support implementation of the Stromlo Forest Park master plan? Yes. Stromlo used to be a world class set of trails that have been left insufficiently maintained in light of the level of increasing use. Bike tourism requires good safe places to ride
Photo by Jonny Lew on Pexels.com

Ambitions

Here is the plan.

Ethics

“An elected Canberra Progressives candidate could hold the balance of  power in the ACT assembly, breaking the control the Liberal & Green/Labor duopoly have on ACT politics, and allow for real accountability and transparency in ACT politics.”

Canberra Progressives About, 20/9/2020

Evidence

“Canberra Progressives policy is driven by expert advice, research and facts. When voting on or implementing government policies, laws or legislation, elected Canberra Progressives will be guided by the evidence.”

Canberra Progressives About, 20/9/2020

Empowerment

“Canberra Progressives will consistently seek the contribution of party members and community members in the development of policies and positions on all key decisions. We will establish grass roots democracy platforms at all levels in the community, in order to truly allow all Canberrans to participate in the governing of their city.”

Canberra Progressives About, 20/9/2020

Photo by James Wheeler on Pexels.com
Photo by James Wheeler on Pexels.com

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