Speaker: Mark Stuart Whitten, Heather McGuiness, Juan Guerschman
We kicked off the first of the Canberra program days at the CSIRO with 3 keynote speakers focussed on environmental studies, that sparked some great discussion amongst the group.
Mark Stuart Whitten spoke to us about climate change and describes it as an “economical and social problem not environmental” and highlights that we need to “engage with communities to have success” whilst “implementing practical solutions”.
Heather McGuiness research has recently taken her to the skies, tracking waterbird movements and breeding along the east coast of Australia.
We also heard from Juan Guerschman on the effects of farming practice on coastal environments. A key takeaway from these discussions was around capabilities for accessing, sharing and using data.
Speakers: Neil Andrew (Chair), Executive Director Colin Mues
We moved onto the Murray Darling Basin Authority head office to hear from Chair, Neil Andrew and Executive Director Colin Mues, within weeks of much controversy around water usage in Western NSW. This candid conversation began with an introduction to the importance of the political place and space from former politician Mr Andrew stating “Decision Making Hill is very important to our Australia”!
We were taken through the MDBA visions and implementation strategies by Colin who said “it’s not about taking water away from irrigators for environmental purposes… but to improve their processes”.
Great questions around water ownership, allocation and new large scale developments and the social impacts within various communities on water management came from the group. Some positive feedback from a Lodden Murray participant and dairy farmer around the positivity of the ‘Efficiency Schemes’.
Speaker: Dr Brendan Nelson, Director of the War Memorial
A very moving session at the Australian War Memorial followed – we were guided around the commemorative exhibition spaces. Leaders also heard from Dr Brendan Nelson, Director of the War Memorial. Dr Nelson was an exceptional orator who inspired participants to continue on their leadership journeys in our community. Guy and Sophie were honored to take part in the Last Post Ceremony laying a wreath next to the Pool of Reflection, whilst we heard the tribute to Able Seaman Andrew William George Huston.
After a quick trip back to the hotel, we were off to dinner at Parliament House hosted by Andrew Broad and his team Dioni Wood, Tracy Mooney and Tori Masters. A quick tour preceded a very eloquent discussion from Andrew and healthy conversations around the tables.
Program Day 2
Old Parliament House
Day 3 of the Canberra Program was kindly sponsored by Andrew Broad Member for Mallee and the focus was understanding our political landscape & national Issues. The morning started with a visit to where Canberra’s political journey also began in 1927 – the Old Parliament House.
We were fortunate to be given the opportunity to participate in role playing as the Prime Minister and Cabinet Ministers and gaining an appreciation of the dilemmas they face when making the difficult and big decisions affecting all Australians.
Our enthusiastic tour guides were oozing with historical facts and details concerning the building, artwork, Westminster system, politicians and stories of how the media would try any trick to get a story first. One of these tricks involved eaves dropping on politicians in the toilets to claim the next morning’s front page headlines.
From here we meandered at a leisurely pace towards new Parliament House, but first a brief stop off at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy was warranted. The Tent Embassy’s current tenants were hospitable sharing stories of Aboriginal Land Rights, empowerment and determination as we gathered around the large fire.
It started to drizzle so we briskly walked to new Parliament House and it did not disappoint. We met and talked with Members of Parliament from most political persuasions – Janet Rice (Greens); Cathy McGowan (Independent); Andrew Broad, Damian Drummond (National Party of Australia) and Joel Fitzgibbons (The Australian Labor Party). These MP’s were very generous with their time sharing stories that provided context to their journey into politics. There were many Q&A opportunities allowing participants to delve deeper into the MP’s psyche and their Party’s position on topics ranging from gay marriage, climate change, dual citizenship, Closing the Gap, Energy and lack of Party diversity (gender and culture) just to name a few. The pace was fast and the learning was even faster, a true reflection of life as a politician in Federal Politics – learn fast or be left behind.
Question Time provided the usual side show spectacle for the media. Labor were hounding the Prime Minister and Barnaby Joyce regarding Joyce’s dual citizenship debacle while the Liberals were reciprocating the inquisition by accusing Labor of conspiring with NZ Government to bring down Joyce by questioning his citizenship in NZ Parliament. To the uninitiated Question Time could of been perceived as petulant children, but no these were Australia’s national leaders showing how it’s done on Capital Hill – Oh what to aspire to! Overall an enriching day and a taste of life for aspiring federal politicians – but alas not for me (fortunately or unfortunately?) as I too have dual Citizenship.
Hosted by John Paul Janke, Director of Communications
We were fortunate to be hosted by John Paul Janke, Director of Communications as he was leaving the organisation in a few days. John gave an excellent insight into AIATSIS, its history, challenges and successes.
Being the oldest continuous cultural continuum in the world, AIATSIS houses an extraordinary treasure trove of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander resource materials that captures an important aspect of Australian history and national identity.
We were then given a tour of the facility and had the opportunity to view a few videos of the work they do.
Hosted by John Paul Janke, Director of Communications
It was worth noting that members of the community were able to look up videos, sound clips and images of family members and reconnect with their ancestry and traditions. With the sheer number of analogue material it houses, it is a race against time to preserve it digitally.
AIATSIS serves an important purpose to ensure that these stories are preserved for future generations.
Rachelle Towart is a truly inspiring leader in her professional and personal life. Her presentation was noted at the ‘Speaker of the Year’ by many of the NML participants. Her open candent speech was refreshing and relevant of how we can take charge of our future by just saying ‘YES’ plus a bit of hard work and determination to create a different in this world.
Max Burke AM took us on a historical journey of the first Arboreta which was established in 1838 through to modern Aboretums such as the National Arboretum we attended. The National Arboretum will become the ‘Great Green Corridor’ over the next 50 years. The National Arboretum was established on land that was razed by the 2001 firestorm that swept parts of Canberra.
We were shown that out of something so devastating new life can grow with the help of the magnificent preservation and conversation work being done here to protect and grow many different trees that are in danger or at risk of becoming extinct in our world.
This 21st century Arboretum is worth the visit and with passionate people like Max on board it will remain so for many generations to come.
Government House Yaraluma the Governor General and Lady Cosgrove were gracious hosts and inspiration leadership stories. Trudi and Matt where the lucky chosen ones who were able to have a provide meeting with their Excellences. After motivational speech from the Governor General the whole group was able to have open discussions in a beautiful setting on a chilly Canberra afternoon. After a few cups of tea, pink lemonade and group picture we were on our way for a quick refresh before we left to the National Press Dinner.
An introduction to an array of media giants with Sabra Lane from ABC radio, Lynda Curtis from Sky News and Colin Bettles from Fairfax Agricultural New Bureau Chief discussing the leadership, politics and the future. The night included networking, sharing stories, passions and connecting with the Loddon Murray Community Leadership Program and The Williamson Leadership Foundation. The evening was topped off with a delicious two course meal and plenty of bubbly discussions.
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