Newly elected Greens Senator Janet Rice is a senator on a mission—to reduce carbon pollution. She rode her bicycle from her home in Melbourne to Canberra, a distance of well over 600 kilometres, to take up her position in the Senate in Federal Parliament on June 30. Ms Rice is representing the State of Victoria and is determined to make a difference.
Cycling is not new for the new senator as her bike is her usual form of transport.
“Bike riding keeps me fit,” she says, “gives me time to unwind and doesn’t pollute the air.” However the ride to Canberra is a bit longer than her usual 80 – 100 kilometre ride around Melbourne for shopping, going to work and meetings.
On a typical cold Melbourne winter morning sixty people turned up to have breakfast at a café in Footscray with their newly elected Senator Janet Rice before she pedalled off to start her new job. There was an air of excitement as the forty-five supporters who cycled with the senator prepared for the long haul to Canberra. Senator Rice has made a commitment to lead by example with a fresh approach to transport policy. It took her sixteen long days as she stopped at various towns on the way so that she could talk to as many people as possible. As a representative of the people of Victoria, to make the time to listen and hear people’s stories Ms Rice said is very important, in fact critical when making decisions in parliament.
Ms Rice also understands the importance for members of parliament to be held in high esteem in regard to trust and truth but says that most politicians don’t seem to realise this.
“That’s why,” she said, “most people are cynical about politics. I hope to be a politician who has integrity and is authentic—staying true to my values that are shared with so many people in the community—caring for people and other species, showing them respect.”
Ms Rice says she has always had a passion for the environment from early childhood. “I loved walking and running along Altona beach and local wetlands when I was growing up, and just being out in nature.”
And although she grew up in the Melbourne suburb of Altona, she spent much of her childhood camping every summer at Wilson’s Promontory, bush walking and visiting natural areas including national parks, and visiting outback South Australia with her family including Lake Eyre.
Her interest in the environment continued when studying for a science degree and in particular learning about Global Warming.
“I decided I needed to take action, so I worked in the environment movement and then was one of the founders of The Greens in Victoria in 1992.”
Rice also took part in the Australasian Antarctic Expedition 2013-2014 consisting of scientists, tourists and journalists on the Akademik Shoklskiy that became icebound. All on board were eventually flown out by helicopter. She said that this expedition gave her a huge appreciation of the magnificence of that wild wilderness, untouched, pristine … but being impacted by climate change.
“Nature was very much under threat even in the most remote untouched part of our planet she said. “It really reinforced for me the importance of action, to urgently stop polluting our atmosphere with carbon pollution for the care and well-being of people, all species and the earth.”
More information on the Senator’s journey.