The Australian Greens candidate for the seat of Canberra in 2016 is Patricia Cahill. Cahill was born in Tasmania and as a child moved around from state to state with her mining family. She describes herself as Australian rather than holding to a state-bound identity, but she felt a pull towards the city of Canberra when deciding to raise a family. Cahill has been living in Canberra for almost a decade and is active in the Canberra community.
Cahill has always been interested in different voices being heard. While completing her Masters of Public Policy in Melbourne, Cahill took a keen interest in the Greens; in particular, Peter Singer’s 1996 campaign for the Senate. After the 2001 Tampa Affair, Cahill felt Australia was becoming a fearful place and didn’t agree with a lot of the policies being implemented by the then Coaliton Government under Prime Minister John Howard.
Cahill was attracted to the Greens’ principles of social and economic justice, environmental sustainability, grassroots involvement and non-violence.
She’s an advocate for combating human-induced climate-change, legalising medicinal cannabis and voluntary euthanasia. She has a background in urban planning and was once asked to help create a brand new coal-fired station, to which she said no.
Cahill has been involved in the Women’s Electoral Lobby and their campaigns for pay equity, reproductive rights, affordable housing and efforts to reduce violence against women in local and refugee communities. She believes in transparency when it comes to election donations and that fossil fuel companies donating to political campaigns has the potential to taint national energy and climate change policies.
In number of voters, Canberra is one of the biggest electorates in the country, and Cahill likes to try and sit-down for a coffee with as many of tem as possible. The feedback she gets is that the Greens are decent, sensible and optimistic. She has a hard task in front of her, though, running against the sitting member, Gai Brodtmann (Labor), who enjoys a safe margin.
Cahill says, however, that Brodtmann is at a disadvantage because the ALP’s central decision-making process prevents her from raising issues that the people are interested in.
“I’d say refugee action and closing offshore detention camps is a major one [issue]. I have so many people within the community who tell me very strongly that enough is enough and it [the detention centres] need to be closed.”