The ACT has only two Senate positions and Kim Rubenstein wants one of them. And more of them for other aspiring politicians.
The well-regarded Canberra-based constitutional lawyer, academic and author has announced she is taking on the major parties by running as an independent Senate candidate for the ACT at the next federal election.
In an interview with The Canberra Times, Professor Rubenstein says she is running on a platform of independence, Canberra representation and what she says is much-needed constitutional reform, including territory rights, Indigenous recognition, dual citizenship and, eventually, an Australian republic.
"I think for the last 30 years I've been advocating on issues that I'm really passionate about in broader public terms," she said.
"And so I really feel now is the time to take that a step up and to bring that message as far and wide as possible in terms of the issues that I think are really important in our democracy."
The University of Canberra professor and co-director of the gender equality initiative, the 50/50 by 2030 Foundation, is a leading expert on citizenship and gender issues.
The Harvard and University of Melbourne graduate acknowledges taking a senate seat in the ACT from the major parities will not be an easy task. The ACT has returned one Labor and one Liberal Senator at every election since 1975.
Prof Rubenstein will face high-profile senate incumbents, Liberal minister Zed Seselja and former chief minister and Labor shadow minister Katy Gallagher. As well, there is usually a strong Greens vote in ACT. In the 2019 election, the Greens polled 17.7 per cent of the ACT senate vote.
With seemingly never abating cynicism around politics, Prof Rubenstein proposes to be an independent, trusted voice for Canberra.
"I join in that dissatisfaction in terms of what we're seeing in parliament today and I do think that the independents who are in parliament are showing us that there are better ways of doing it," she told The Canberra Times.
"I think anyone who is cynical should say to themselves, 'What can I do to make this a better place'? Rather than being cynical in its fuller sense of not taking any notice.
"I'd say, take notice and take notice of me now in what I'm wanting to do and join me in enabling me to run as an independent to join the Kim for Canberra party, to be able to support someone like me actually having the best shot at being in the Senate."
What does she want to do in Federal Parliament? Unsurprisingly, Prof Rubenstein has her eye on constitutional reform.
She is well known for supporting returning the rights of the ACT and NT to make their own laws, including legislation on voluntary euthanasia, and she is an avowed republican, "it is time for us to move to a republic."
But the aspirant senator wants to actively support constitutional changes to allow for the Uluru Statement from the Heart, that is to realise an Indigenous Voice for Federal Parliament.
Once passed, she says, more constitutional changes could follow. "I think it would show to the people of Australia that constitutional change is possible," she said.
There is also the infamous Section 44 of the Constitution which blocks dual citizens from running for federal parliament. The constitutional section caused multiple MPs, such as Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce, Greens Senator Scott Ludlam and Labor's Katy Gallagher, to resign or be removed from Federal Parliament in 2017.
"That would be my second move in terms of making our representative body better reflective of our multicultural nation," she said.
And she wants more room in the Senate for the ACT, preferably two more Senate positions to fight for next time.
"I think having more territory representatives, at least two more, would enable Canberrans to have a stronger voice in resisting any override by the federal government," Prof Rubenstein said.
"But also it would enable there to be more diversity of representation in the Senate for Canberra and I am the first step in getting that."
While she is running as an independent, she plans to run as a new party, Kim for Canberra, to ensure she has 'equal footing with the major parties' with placement above-the-line on ballots.
Only registered parties are placed above the line under current rules and at least 550 members will be needed to sign up to get the Kim for Canberra party started.
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