Standing up for Canberra
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Hong Kong Chamber: A Letter from Canberra

I write this letter from Canberra just a few days after the election. I’m still recovering.

On election day, I visit every polling booth in the electorate. It’s become a ritual.

It drives my staff nuts. They’re not shy about saying so.

“It’s not an efficient use of your time,” they say. “You spend half the day in the car.”

But efficiency isn’t everything.

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Hong Kong Chamber: A Letter from Canberra

Six years ago, when I was embarking on my first campaign, the focus of my team’s attention was on flyers for letterboxing and print and radio advertising. I had a Facebook page, which I rarely used, and I hadn’t signed up for Twitter.

How the world of political campaigning has changed in less than a decade.

As I write, Australians have passed the half-way mark of the longest election campaign in living memory.

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The Chronicle: The Modern Library

I’ll admit it – I haven’t spent much time in libraries in recent years.

As a result, my memories of libraries – of earnest study, stern silence and fear for leaving my essay research too late – are a little outdated.

The truth is, the library in which I spent my student days (first for work experience, then in high school and university) bears little more than a passing resemblance to its modern incarnation. The libraries of my past don’t really exist anymore.

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Hong Kong Chamber: A Letter from Canberra

As I write, Australia is in day one of a 55 day double dissolution election campaign – one of the longest in our history.

And, just hours ago, the 44th Parliament was officially prorogued.

In the expectation an election was to be called on the weekend, much of last week’s Budget and Budget Reply parliamentary sitting was spent bidding farewell to retiring Members of Parliament, many of whom are long term and well known features on the Australian political landscape. 

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The Chronicle: Elder Relationship Service

Last month I spent a week in Melbourne looking after my mother following a uterine cancer diagnosis and radical hysterectomy. I wished I could have stayed for longer, but with an early budget and election on the cards this proved challenging. Mum was grateful that I was able to take off my ‘politician hat’ and put on my ‘daughter hat’ for an entire week. I was grateful for my two sisters who are Melbourne-based and able to take on much of the caring responsibilities in my absence. I’d be lost without them, and so would Mum.

Caring for ageing loved ones is challenging at the best of times. Complex issues related to ageing can bring even the closest of families undone. Far too often as the Member for Canberra I have seen rifts emerge within families over the course of making decisions about care of an ageing relative.

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Hong Kong Chamber: A Letter from Canberra

Rail paved the way for the first Industrial Revolution, and roads made possible the second. But the third Industrial Revolution will be digital, and it’ll be paved with fibre optics.

Both of Australia’s major political parties have committed to modernising our broadband infrastructure. We have very different opinions on how best to modernise it, but we’re a unity ticket on the objective - if not the strategy.

But recognising our broadband needs modernising is about as difficult as sticking your hand out the window and recognising it’s raining.

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The Chronicle: Oaks Estate grant for public toilets

Last year I asked Canberrans what they would do for the community if they were given $20,000, and the residents of Oaks Estate responded that they would build a toilet.

Public conveniences might seem a regular feature throughout most of Canberra, but in Oaks Estate there were none.

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Hong Kong Chamber: A Letter from Canberra

It’s not often you look out a window of Parliament House in Canberra and see a traditional colourful lion dancing across the forecourts.

But that’s exactly the view our nation’s parliamentarians were treated to last month, as Australia’s capital kicked off its Lunar New Year celebrations with gusto.

For many parts of the world, Lunar New Year celebrations mean huge festivals full of colour, music, dancing and eating. 

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The Chronicle: In defence of bread

Ah, bread. You’ve been much-maligned of late.

When someone’s trying to start up on a low-carb diet, you’re always the first thing dropped off the menu. Then there’s the gluten intolerant, for whom health concerns see bread fall off the proverbial plate. Bread is treated like a boring old staple so often that some restaurants will just put it in front of you while you order your actual, real food.

But there’s another side to bread, and it’s actually pretty remarkable.

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The Chronicle: Canberra heads back to the classrooms

It was an annual ritual. Straight after our summer holiday at the beach, Mum would take my sisters and me out to get fitted for new school shoes. Mum saved for months for that shopping expedition, and the shoes had to last all year. So, given their life expectancy, we were only allowed utilitarian leather, laced, black numbers – and did we whine! Not for us the coveted Mary-Janes with little hearts fashioned on the toes. Or the rugged Adventurers that left tiger paw imprints when you walked in the dust. 

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