We conclude our Women in Politics series with Cate Faehrmann, lead Senate candidate for the Greens in NSW. So if you reside in NSW and vote for the Australian Greens in the Senate at tomorrow’s federal election, this is the lady you’ll be voting for.
Cate Faehrmann acknowledges the fact that she took a big risk in resigning from the NSW Legislative Assembly to contest the federal election on September 7. But for this traditional ‘greenie’ and founding director of GetUp!, “its absolutely a risk worth taking”.
“For me a lot of the issues that I care very passionately about are the federal issues like climate change, the environment and the treatment of asylum seekers,” Cate Faehrmann told Australian Women Online.
Now a resident of NSW, Cate Faehrmann grew up in the Lockyer Valley in Queensland. “Because I grew up in the country and was surrounded by the bush, I think that shaped my love of the environment,” says Cate. “Climate change and the environment is really the reason why I joined the Greens thirteen years ago.”
Even though the Australian Greens have expanded their suite of policies to include a much broader range of issues, Cate Faehrmann’s first priority is and always will be, the environment.
Over the years she has worked tirelessly on core campaigns for climate change, restrictions on shooting in national parks and container deposit legislation.
In 2010 she spearheaded Australia’s largest day of action on climate change, Walk Against Warming, which saw more than 100,000 Australians peacefully march for action on climate change, including notable Australians such as Cate Blanchett.
On the issue of marriage equality, Cate Faehrmann made a significant contribution during the 3 years she spent in the NSW Legislative Council. “I was able to get a motion passed in the New South Wales Upper House which calls on the Commonwealth to amend the Marriage Act so that any two people can marry.”
Although it was no mean feat passing the motion in a Parliament that includes Fred Nile and the Christian Democrats, she does concede “that the change ultimately has to happen at the federal level. The only reason the states are looking at it is because of the reluctance of the main political parties at the federal level to really deal with it.”
Despite this reluctance by the major political parties, Cate Faehrmann believes marriage equality is inevitable.
“Regardless of the outcome of the federal election, I think it’s an issue whose time has come and I really do feel that in the next 3 years we will see movement on this and if I get elected, I for one, will be working as hard as possible to achieve change.”
Another issue she feels strongly about is voluntary euthanasia. “In my opinion, again, Federal Parliament is incredibly behind the times on this issue. Overwhelmingly people in the community want the right to be able to request assistance from their doctor to die if they are ever in the circumstance of having a terminal illness where their pain and suffering can’t be alleviated.”
“If I get elected I will be exploring every opportunity to continue advocating for law reform in this area and again, this one’s inevitable as well. Most people see it as a choice, a right, a compassionate law reform that’s desperately needed.”
As previously mentioned, Cate Faehrmann was a founding director of GetUp! the progressive political movement that took Australia by storm when it was launched in August 2005.
“When I was first approached by the guys who were behind it, their vision was very impressive but the execution I think was even better,” said Cate. “For me it felt like we were part of building a movement and I think GetUp! has made a lasting contribution to politics in this country.”
While she certainly has the passion and the experience needed to become an effective member of the Upper House. The question must be asked. What will Cate Faehrmann do if she isn’t elected to the Senate on Saturday?
“In some ways it’s the last thing on my mind during a campaign,” says Cate. “But I will continue working for change. We don’t have any children but my partner Paul and I live an incredibly full life.”
One thing she won’t be doing is working for the Greens in any official capacity. Having done her time in the trenches, such a backward step holds no appeal for this 43 year old. “I’ve worked on election campaigns for MPs and I’ve worked for the party a fair bit when I was younger.”
“One thing for certain is I don’t think I’d be able to take my eye off climate change. I think I’ll look around for a role in which I can contribute most to climate change.”
“Even though I’m passionate about marriage equality and voluntary euthanasia, one of the driving forces behind what I do is to make sure we solve the climate problem. We are really facing a frightening and uncertain future if we don’t.”
To learn more about the Australian Greens visit their website at www.greens.org.au