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Future Generation: Tara Cheyne

Emma Macdonald

Few people can lay claim to embracing Canberra with as much gusto as Tara Cheyne.

Having left her home state of Queensland in 2008 for the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department and later the Finance Department, Tara settled in Belconnen and promptly fell in love. She moved quickly to cement her links to the city, starting up the popular blog In The Taratory, which drew attention to all the activities and attractions of the usually maligned city, helping pull together the national conference Eat Drink Blog, and represented her community as president of the Belconnen Community Council.

But things ratcheted up a notch when Tara sought and won a place in the Legislative Assembly last year as the Labor member for Ginninderra. She is now also Government Whip.

She may be the youngest woman in the Assembly, at 30, but she has quickly gained a reputation for her effectiveness and is recognised a potential Labor leader somewhere down the track.

You clearly love the place, what are the things that set Canberra apart from the rest of the country?

We have the facilities, infrastructure and innovation of a big city and the community spirit and friendship of a small town. Within five minutes from the CBD you can be in the bush or in Parliament House. And I love that we have a community that is ready to embrace bold ideas, to support anyone who’s trying something different and giving it a red hot go. And that means we’re a city that’s always full of potential. It makes us an exciting place to be.

If you had to move back to Queensland, what would you miss the most?

The people. Hands down. I love Canberra for a lot of reasons but it’s the people who make it my home.

Were you surprised to win a seat so quickly and what is the least pleasant part of life as an MLA?

I had worked really hard. Throughout the campaign I said to myself, “I don’t want to get to 6pm on polling day and feel like there was more I could have done”. I didn’t take any day for granted. So, while I wasn’t sure what the outcome would be, when the polls closed I knew in my heart I’d done everything I could to win.

I think the least pleasant part is standing outside in the cold. To reach and meet as many people as possible you’ve got to knock on their doors in unpleasant weather or stand outside a shopping centre in 0 degrees. It really can be tough – especially after a few months of it – but the conversations soon warm me up!

If you could get one policy through the Assembly tomorrow what would it be?

That one policy has already been through the Assembly, back in 2013: marriage equality. However, days later it was overturned by the High Court.

Now, while we wait for the Federal Government to legislate, the ACT Government is doing whatever we can within our power to reduce this inequality and I’m proud to be part of that.

Read the entire Future Generation series here

Photography by Martin Ollman

This article originally appeared as part of our Future Generation editorial in Magazine: Future for Winter 2017, available for free while stocks last. Find out more about Magazine here

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Emma Macdonald

Emma Macdonald has been writing about Canberra and its people for more than 20 years, winning numerous awards for her journalism - including a Walkley or two - along the way. Canberra born and bred, she’s fiercely loyal to the city, tribally inner-north, and relieved the rest of the country is finally recognising Canberra’s cool and creative credentials. More about the Author

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