I launched Stuart Cunningham’s new book Hidden Innovation tonight.
Launching Stuart Cunningham, Hidden Innovation: Policy, Industry and the Creative Sector
Paperchain Books, Manuka
9 April 2013
According to one study cited in Stuart Cunningham’s book, there are two opposing groups of people: ‘political junkies’ (PJs) and Big Brother fans (BBs). PJs think that it ‘beggars belief’ that anyone could think Big Brother was useful. BBs say that politicians are unapproachable and out of touch.
So as an MP who used to quite enjoy watching Big Brother, I found myself torn. Am I a BB or a PJ? A PJ in BBs? Or a BB in PJs?
The reference to Big Brother is just one of a myriad of cultural touchstones in this fascinating book. Stuart Cunningham’s book romps through Survivor and Go Back to Where you Came From, Korean bloggers and Fat Cow Motel, Australian iTunes game Fruit Ninja and Nigeria’s ‘Nollywood’.
Belconnen Arts Centre displayed a 3m x 2m map on their wall, where people could come in and locate their favourite places in Canberra’s north – the federal electorate of Fraser that I have the privilege to represent. Belconnen Arts Centre also facilitated information sessions at Gorman House Arts Centre, Gungahlin Library, and at their own location in Emu Bank, Belconnen. Local professional artist Maryann Mussared was on hand to help with the creative process.
Popular locations included local universities, mountains, popular walking spots and community facilities such as John Knight Park in Belconnen and Gungahlin Skate Park. We turned this into a Google Map of people’s favourite places.
I’ve now joined forces with design students from the University of Canberra to put some of those key places into an infographics map. The range of options and different ways of showing key northside places was incredible and I was impressed by the students’ creativity.
You can have a look at the different ideas the students came up with at the links below. My favourite was Michelle’s, and this will appear in my next community newsletter.
I spoke in parliament yesterday on the passing of my most famous constituent, Bryce Courtenay.
Bryce Courtenay, 27 November 2012
A little over 12 months ago Paul Keating told Leigh Sales during a Lateline interview:
‘Well, it’s all about telling the stories. You gotta be able to tell the stories, I think.’
Today I pay tribute to one of our greatest ever storytellers. Australian author Bryce Courtenay lived in the suburb of Reid in my electorate, a few kilometres from my electorate office. Last week he died of stomach cancer, aged 79. He was a prolific author. In his 23 years of writing he wrote 23 books—almost one a year. I say ‘almost’ because the only time he missed his annual deadline was last year. He was upset by this even though the arthritis in his hands were so severe he could only perform two-finger typing.
I spoke in parliament this evening about a bill to give the National Portrait Gallery its own piece of legislation.
National Portrait Gallery of Australia Bill, 11 September 2012
It is my pleasure to follow the member for Hinkler and to agree with so much of what he had to say in his very articulate speech. There is much that divides us in this place, but I think it is often the arts which can bring us together. I particularly appreciated the member for Hinkler’s comments about the great wisdom and prescience of the Whitlam government.
The National Portrait Gallery was something I remember first thinking about when I lived as a whippersnapper in London for a number of years. I was there on my own and loved the opportunity to visit the British National Portrait Gallery. It has that great combination of art and history you get in a portrait gallery. Wandering amidst the portraits there, I remember thinking to myself, ‘It would be great if Australia had one of these.’ As previous speakers have noted, Tom Roberts had had that idea in the early 1900s, but it was not until much later, 1999, that Australia got its National Portrait Gallery.
I spoke in parliament yesterday about the late Robert Hughes. Others had refelcted on his life more broadly, so I focused particularly on his contribution to art criticism. (Delayed by another event, I nearly didn’t make it into the chamber on time, since I was running with American Visions in one hand.)
Robert Hughes, 15 August 2012
Robert Hughes’s life is a difficult one to sum up: 74 years, 15 books, multiple TV series, three wives. The member for Wentworth yesterday in the chamber spoke on Robert Hughes’s passing with wonderful eloquence, as he so often does. I suggested to him afterwards we should create a post of parliamentary eulogist and make it his in permanence.
So many aspects of Robert Hughes’s life could attract mention today: The Fatal Shore, inspired by EP Thompson’s The Making of the English Working Class, or his tome on Barcelona, which was an extraordinary piece of work. But I want to focus today on his role as an art critic—I think the leading art critic of a generation—because it was in that capacity that he so much inspired me. It has been noted that Robert Hughes became an art critic by accident. In 1958 he was working as a cartoonist in Sydney for the fortnightly magazine the Observer, then edited by Donald Horne. He recounted that Horne had sacked the magazine’s art critic and snapped at Hughes, ‘You’re the cartoonist—you ought to know something about art.’ And so a career began.
I spoke in Parliament today about the late ABC journalist Alan Saunders, a polymath of the airwaves. My radio listening will be poorer for his passing.
18 June 2012
ABC’s Radio National is one of Australia’s great public institutions, and I rise to speak about the late Alan Saunders, who died unexpectedly last Friday. Alan Saunders spent 25 years with Radio National. He moved to Australia in 1981 to pursue research at the Australian National University’s History of Ideas unit, where he received a PhD. He received the Pascall Prize for critical writing and broadcasting in 1992. He contributed to programs about food, design and philosophy. As Amanda Armstrong put it:
My monthly column in the Chronicle newspaper is about reading.
National Year of Reading, The Chronicle, April 2012
When Dick Adams left high school, he wasn’t able to read or write. It didn’t worry him much. As he told his local paper, ‘I was too busy playing cricket, helping my family on the farm, hunting and fishing’. But eventually, he realised that it would be hard to get far in life without reading and writing, so he found an adult literacy teacher and spent four years learning to read and write.
Today, Dick is a federal MP for the seat of Lyons in Tasmania. At Parliament House, he occupies the office two doors down from mine. He’s someone I can always trust for advice, and I know I’m not the only parliamentarian who feels that way.
At the Belconnen Arts Centre tonight, we launched the online version of the Mapping the Northside exercise, in which people nominated their favourite spots on the north side of Canberra. To see the results on Google Maps, click on the link below.
View Mapping the Northside in a larger map
Next Tuesday, we’ll be launching the final ‘people’s map’ of the northside of Canberra. Details on the BAC website (and below).
Tuesday 3 April > 6:00pm
In 2011, Belconnen Arts Centre and Andrew Leigh MP ran a joint project: ‘Mapping The Northside’. Come along and hear about the 160 favourite places of the many local residents who participated. Learn about the special natural, cultural, gastronomical and sporting spots, and find out the most popular place in the federal electorate of Fraser. The event will feature live music and light refreshments.
Cost > Free! Bookings recommended
More information & bookings > firstname.lastname@example.org or 02 6173 3300
I held one of my regular community forums at lunchtime today at the Belconnen Community Services theaterette (‘theatre@bcs’). I started off speaking about the mining tax package, which has just passed the parliament, and will provide for a cut to the company tax rate, an increase in superannuation, and more investment (particularly in the mining regions).
There were a wide variety of questions, covering the Gonski review of school funding, local arts facilities, the National Disability Insurance Scheme, refugee policy, the purchase of submarines, the lack of a letterbox at the Kangara Waters community, defence force and public service pension indexation, the adequacy of footpaths in the city centre, the merits of taking on debt to pay for fiscal stimulus, the frequency of grass cutting, household assistance in the carbon pricing plan, and the effect of federal pension increases on ACT public housing costs.
I enjoy the interplay of ideas at these forums, and welcome anyone who lives or works on the northside of Canberra to come along to a future community forum.
This forum was held on a weekday lunchtime, but there’s no perfect time of the day for a community forum, so I aim to vary the dates and times to allow as many people as possible to attend. For details of upcoming forums, click here.
I spoke in parliament last night about the Centenary of Canberra in 2013.
Centenary of Canberra
20 March 2012
One hundred years ago Walter Burley Griffin said that he wanted to design a city for a nation of ‘bold democrats’. On 12 March 2013 Canberra will celebrate its centenary, a celebration that all Australians can be proud of. Tonight I want to speak about two exciting aspects of Canberra’s centenary. The first is the opportunity to speak in greater depth about what our history means and where it has been going. It is my pleasure this evening to engage in one aspect of this—a forum hosted by the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects entitled ‘Sex in the city’ in which noted architecture writer Elizabeth Farrelly presented her views on gender and urban development. I would like to thank Paul Costigan, Diane Firth, my fellow commentator, Gary Rake, and many others for an important discussion about where a great Australian city is to go. Better understanding your own city is the first step towards improving it.
I spoke in parliament tonight about Asia-literacy, Ken Henry’s Asian Century report, refugees, and the Canberra Multicultural Festival. The speech is below (and if you’re at the Festival this coming Saturday, please come over to the Andrew Leigh stall and say g’day).
In a somewhat unusual departure from my day job, I joined seven terrifying talented Canberrans last night to tell a story onstage as part of the ABC 666 ‘Now Hear This’ event. The theme for the night was ‘friendship’. I’ll post a link to the video when it becomes available, but for now, you’ll have to make do with the photos (individual, group), and my storytelling bio (over the fold).
I spoke in parliament today about ‘Mapping the Northside’.
Mapping the Northside, 3 November 2011
There are many hidden and not so hidden gems in my electorate of Fraser. In partnership with the Belconnen Arts Centre, on 18 October I launched Mapping the Northside. Mapping the Northside is project where community members are invited to identify their favourite place on a two- by three- metre map of the Fraser electorate.
Just one sleep until we start Mapping the Northside. All welcome.
Event: LAUNCH OF ‘MAPPING THE NORTHSIDE’
Date: TUESDAY 18 OCTOBER 2011
Venue: Belconnen Arts Centre, 118 Emu Bank Belconnen
Andrew Leigh, Federal Member for Fraser and Belconnen Arts Centre join forces this October and November to create a huge interactive map of the federal electorate of Fraser. The map will be displayed in the Belconnen Arts Centre from Tuesday 18 October until Thursday 17 November, and everyone is encouraged to drop in and plot their most meaningful places onto the map.
“Mapping the Northside is an opportunity to tell everyone about your special, important places and environments and let your imagination run wild. Show everyone that the Fraser electorate is the most vibrant place in Australia,
“The Belconnen Arts Centre and I invite everyone to be a part of Mapping the Northside and learn something new about Canberra’s north,” said Andrew Leigh.
What’s your favourite place on the Northside? Is it where you live, you work, you learn or you play? Is it a tiny restaurant you love, a bike track, your local school, a tennis court, a park, an arts or community centre, a heritage site or a quiet track or place you like to walk your dog? When describing your favourite place you can draw it, photograph it, create a collage, write a story or a poem, or even create a performance work.
There will be three facilitated information sessions at Belconnen Arts Centre (11 – 1pm, 29 October), Gorman House Arts Centre (Saturday 11 – 1pm, 5 November) and Gungahlin Library (Saturday 11 – 1pm, 12 November)