Who will form the next ACT government?
Will Andrew Barr lead Labor to another term in office? Can Alistair Coe guide the Canberra Liberals out of the political wilderness and into government for the first time since 2001?
What role will Shane Rattenbury and the Greens play in shaping the next four years in ACT politics?
To mark 12 months until the 2020 ACT election, The Canberra Times sat down with the three party leaders to discuss their vision for government, their political opponents and the issues that will define the months leading up to the October 17 poll.
Is it time for change?
One of the biggest fears held by ACT Labor true believers is that an "it's time" sentiment will sweep through the electorate this time next year.
And with the government almost into its third decade in power, it seems a reasonable fear to have.
While there's no major scandal hanging over the government's head, an accumulation of dissatisfaction with health services, transport, and a perceived arrogance could get the opposition over the line.
There is clearly a risk voters will think 20 years is too long in power and a clear-out is justified.
So it's of little surprise the line "the most conservative Liberals in the country" is getting wheeled out at any chance by the government. The opposition would say Barr should get back to basics - like improving our overburdened hospitals or restoring bus services - and stop virtue signalling.
But Barr says these policies have real economic and social benefits in Canberra, contributing to rapid growth and helping attract and retain talented people.
"Human capital, individuals, are really what both drives our economy and our community," he says.
We will be our best as a community if we are inclusive, welcoming and open to people to a diverse range of backgroundsChief Minister Andrew Barr
Barr says Coe - a social conservative - as Chief Minister would be Tony Abbot meets Scott Morrison, something Canberrans have never experienced.
"We've had Liberal governments before, under Kate Carnell, but we've never had a conservative government," he says.
"If that's what Canberra wants and they vote for it then that's democracy. But that's exactly what they'd be getting."
Former Chief Minister Jon Stanhope has been one of Barr's fiercest public critics on issues from health care, tax reform and indigenous affairs.
Barr was a minister in Stanhope's government before his retirement in 2011.
Some Liberals think Stanhope's criticism could be one of their biggest weapons, in a way giving long time Labor voters permission to switch their votes.
Barr says the government is building on the record it has inherited as well as facing a whole range of new challenges.
"No one has served longer in government than Mr Stanhope did, including leading a majority government, and no one had more opportunity to address the issues he continues to highlight," Barr says
"There will always be challenges in government, he wasn't able to overcome and solve every issue he demands a solution on now and he's governed for one third of the time that the territory has been self governing."
Barr's unconvinced Stanhope will be of any harm at the ballot box.
"I think people pay very little attention to ACT politics more broadly and most people would be hard pressed to name every chief minister we've had," he says.
"Once you leave office you pretty quickly fade from people's thinking
"That's obviously disappointing if you want to be front and centre of people's thinking but once politics is over, it's over."
Barr is keen to frame the election as a referendum on climate change, and expects tax reform, health and education to feature heavily in the next year.
"As well as the usual overlay of progressive vs conservative and experienced versus inexperience," he says.
He says he's proud of the state of the economy, including the lowest unemployment rate in the country and the most job vacancies.
As for the "it's time" risk, Barr concedes more than 20 years in power could in some cases be seen as too long.
"But given every Parliament with the exception of one has produced a minority government in the ACT I think the electoral system guards against that kind of long term government," he said.
"There's also no one who was part of that first Stanhope government who's still in the Assembly."
"I don't think that's going to be a major factor for people."
"It's about respect"
Canberrans can expect to hear Alistair Coe use the word "respect" a lot in the next 12 months.
The opposition leader will employ the phrase when explaining how a Liberal government under his leadership would treat Canberrans, regardless of their political stripes.
He'll use it ad-naseum when attacking Andrew Barr and his Labor government, which, he asserts, has lost touch with, and respect for, average citizens.
"I think we need a government that has far more respect for Canberrans, that recognises that there is genuine diversity in this city," Coe says.
Advocating for a government more "respectful" of its citizens will be central to Coe's campaign to lead the Canberra Liberals out of the political wilderness and into government for the first time since 2001.
He was confident at the start of 2018 that the opposition could win the seats needed to topple Labor at next October's ballot.
But he is "even more confident now", with the resignation of popular Labor frontbencher Meegan Fitzharris and the decision of the Greens' Caroline Le Couteur not to run again lifting Liberal hopes that they can snatch an extra seat in Yerrabi and Murrumbidgee respectively, delivering it majority government.
At just 35, Coe is already a veteran of territory politics, having sat in the ACT Legislative Assembly for almost 11 years.
Like all of his Canberra Liberals colleagues, his entire political life has been spent on the opposition benches.
It's "extraordinarily frustrating", Coe admits, because "nobody gets into politics to be in opposition".
Compounding his frustration, and perhaps fueling his ambition to finally win government, is the reality that many of the political battles he stepped into in 2008 are still being fought a decade later.
Consider Coe's first speech in the legislative assembly, delivered on December 9, 2008.
"This government has spent valuable taxpayer resources on satisfying their delusions of grandeur and has sought to turn Canberra into the nation's leading social laboratory," a then 24-year-old Coe told the chamber.
"I want to see this Assembly focus on the real issues of concern to Canberrans."
Sound familiar? Coe could very easily have delivered this speech last week, or next, and in reference to a Barr government, not one led by former Chief Minister Jon Stanhope.
Time and experience have broadened Coe's perspective on politics and policy, but his view of the role and purpose of government are set in concrete.
He believes Canberrans are "not seeking a government to save the world".
"They want to drive on a good road, they want a park at their local shops, they want a doctor when they're sick, they want a good education for their kids and they want to be safe," he says.
"They don't care how it happens, they just want it to happen."
Coe argues the expectations are not being met, and far too many things are going wrong.
He says increases in government rates and taxes have driven up the cost of living, but not resulted in an improvement in services and infrastructure.
He points to the well-publicised problems plaguing the ACT's public health system.
A city as affluent as Canberra should not have almost 26,000 people - including 8000 children - living below the poverty line, he says.
As to how he intends to fix those problems, Coe says it won't be a case of spending more money, but rather making government departments and services more efficient.
"Money is not the problem in the vast majority of instances. Given we already have the most expensive hospital in the country, it's not a financial problem - it's a management and leadership issue."
A Liberal government would likely have to tighten the purse strings, given the revenue sapping policies it has already announced.
Coe has already pledged to freeze residential rates in the first term of government, and has flagged doing the same for commercial rates.
The Liberals have also promised to abolish payroll tax, a policy Labor estimates would cost the budget more than $600 million each year from 2020 onwards.
Labor has said the policies would mean job losses and service cuts - claims which Coe has rejected.
But the Yerrabi MLA fully expects the attacks will continue, and get "nastier and more personal", as his first election as party leader nears.
Labor will continue to attack Coe over his conservative social values, highlighting at every opportunity his opposition to marriage equality.
Coe says he has beliefs and will remain faithful to them. But he says he won't seek to impose those views on other people, and will never disrespect anyone who does not agree with him.
The Liberals have also announced plans to reinstate school buses and rescind the government's cannabis laws if they win government.
But the party's overall policy agenda remains limited. Coe says the Liberals have to "time their announcements and spent their money wisely".
That's because, for all bluster of day-to-day political brawling, only the days leading up to and including October 17, 2020, really matter.
ACT Greens the envy of their colleagues
The Greens are in an enviable position in the ACT, having played a role in government for the past 10 years.
The nature of the Hare-Clark system means it's pretty difficult to form a majority government. So The Greens have been able to exert influence that would make most of their interstate colleagues envious.
"They're really excited by what's happening here and the fact we're able to make significant progress on issues that are really important to The Greens," ACT leader Shane Rattenbury says. "They're aspiring to copy what we're doing."
Next year, The Greens face a real risk of losing their spot in seat of Murrumbidgee, with incumbent Caroline Le Couteur retiring and a redistribution favouring the Liberals.
She won the spot by only a couple of hundred votes in 2016. But Rattenbury says the party was buoyed by the Federal election results locally and they think they're in with a chance to gain seats.
One of the ACT Greens' biggest challenges is being seen as independent of the Labor party, especially when Rattenbury is a member of Cabinet.
He says a lot of the disagreements with Labor are done behind the scenes and the party is able to effectively influence policy behind closed doors.
Rattenbury says the Liberals have made it hard for The Greens to work with them.
"They have taken a reactionary position on some really important issues," he said.
"Their reaction to the climate change strategy was frankly embarrassing. They completely distorted things. So it's hard to take them credibly when they're operating like that."
Rattenbury says relations with the Liberals soured when The Greens decided to take a spot in Cabinet, when they became "the enemy".
The parties previously worked together in the 2008-2012 term to pass legislation on a range of issues. The Liberals have jumped on issues traditionally championed by The Greens like indigenous affairs, healthcare, and youth justice.
Rattenbury questions how genuine their concern for social justice is, saying it appeared to be more about finding a gotcha moment.
"My sense is they'll go wherever they think they can find a space that will embarrass the government or the minister of the issue." He says a Coe-led government would likely spend the first 12 to 18 months unpicking a lot of recent reform.
Rattenbury says there are plenty of big ticket items that would never have been delivered had it not been for The Greens - not least of which is light rail. He also takes credit for the ACT being on track to achieve 100 per cent renewable electricity in the coming months.
"One of the things people get when they vote for us is they know we can actually deliver on the things we take to the election," he says.