Janet Rice

Hi and welcome to my personal blog.

In July 2014, I took my seat as Greens Senator for Victoria. I am committed to standing up for a caring society, a fair economy and a clean environment.

If you want to get in touch, please call my office on (03) 9384 6199 or email my at senator.rice@aph.gov.au. You can also check out my official Greens page here.

On the train to Yass, with most of the journey to Canberra behind me.

Sunday 29 June 2014 at 8:57 pm

Random Thoughts

It’s been really interesting and enjoyable to arrive in regional towns and cities by the back roads. When in a car, even when you leave the highway and drive into town , your whole perception of the town is shaped by its relationship with the highway. The highway is dominant, the road off it is taking you away from the highway, the locations of the main street, the shops, the petrol station are defined by where they are in relationship to the highway

In contrast, when you arrive by back roads you gently meander into town. Past the edge of the houses, past the local school, cross over the railway line, turn right at the station, pass a church or two and the aquatic centre before you discover the main street. You’ve had a chance to see people in their gardens, meet locals walking and riding bikes, You realise implicitly that the town has an identity of its own, it stands as an entity separate from the highway. Arriving by bike reinforces the sense that you are entering a community.

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Stories from Shepparton, 23-24 June

Tuesday 24 June 2014 at 9:58 pm

The bike route into Shepparton from Mooroopna, through the redgum forest of the Goulbourn River flats is very picturesque. It was the final five kilometres of our day, and we rode through in sunshine in mid afternoon, and the forest was sparkling, washed clean in the day’s rain showers. It was purely coincidental that we had pulled over and were under cover, waiting for a journalist when the thunderstorm hit. Massive rolls of thunder, lightning, and hail was a dramatic welcome to Shepparton. By the time the interview was completed, and we rode the remaining 10 minutes into town the sun was out again, and we cruised up High St, finding the Afghani Restaurant where we met Nasim, President of the local Hazara community.

As we chatted with Nasim more thunder and lightning and torrential rain played dramatically outside. We ate freshly baked bread, salad, the meat eaters ate kebabs, and drank tea. More tea. This ride has been fuelled by tea. Then off we pedalled to find our home for the next two nights.

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Journey to Canberra Days 1-3 Footscray to Ballarat, 15-17 June

Wednesday 18 June 2014 at 8:31 pm

on the ride
 I’ve just come in out of the drizzle to the Ballarat Library. It’s 5pm. We’ve decided not to go back to where we are staying before Politics in the Pub; it’s 3km out of town and mid winter cycling in Ballarat can be challenging. If I was wearing my cycling gear it would have been fine, but I’ve had an ‘activities day’ today, attending the launch of Refugee Week and speaking to staff and students at Ballarat Grammar school, so was in my ‘nice clothes’ looking Senatorial – fine for bike riding, but not for getting wet!

with ballarat grammar students
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Join me on my ride to Canberra

Sunday 08 June 2014 at 1:01 pm

For all the details of the ride, to sign up, and to find out about the farewell party on 13 June and farewell breakfast on 15 June visit visit http://victoria.greens.org.au/journey_to_canberra

The ride starts in Footscray on 15 June, where my political journey began. The 16-day trip will stop in Bacchus Marsh, Ballarat, Castlemaine, Bendigo, Rushworth, Shepparton, Benalla, Wangaratta, and Wodonga. We will then catch the train from Wodonga to Yass, then get back on our bikes for the final day’s ride into Canberra.

The trip will be a listening tour, holding dinners and meeting people along the way in towns and regional centres and taking their stories to Canberra

My  bike is my main form of transport so I want to arrive in Canberra on one. Riding to Canberra will give me the opportunity to travel the breadth of Victoria meeting constituents at a pace where I can appreciate the countryside and the people.

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East West Link is bad for our climate

Thursday 10 April 2014 at 10:43 am

I presented to the panel considering the East West Link Comprehensive Impact Statement today, focussing on the likely impact of the East West Link tollway and tunnel on our climate.

Did you know that the Transport Integration Act, which is the legal framework that our transport system operates under says that 

‘The transport system should actively contribute to environmental sustainability by [inter alia]

My submission outlines how East West Link is completely at odds with the Act with regard to carbon pollution.

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Caring for refugees

Wednesday 09 April 2014 at 1:48 pm


Photo: Nawroz Festival Dandenong, April 2014 with Greens Candidate for Dandenong, Hazara Refugee, John Gulzari

I was a teenager, growing up in Altona when Australia accepted hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese refugees. They didn’t speak English. They looked different. Lots of them weren’t Christian.

My family and I were struck by the changes in Footscray, our regional shopping centre, and had to deal with the sense of change in our town. We got used to it.

The bipartisan approach from Whitlam and Fraser of accepting refugees was critical.  Both genuinely recognised the importance of treating people humanely, and this in turn was incredibly important in shaping community attitudes. We realised that although the Vietnamese didn’t speak English well, looked different and lots weren’t Christians that they were actually ok. That we had more in common than was different.

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Acting on climate change: yes we can

Monday 03 February 2014 at 11:57 am

I prepared and presented this presentation whilst on my Antarctic trip. It's got a few Antarctic specific references not surprisingly! Invoking the spirit of Mawson at the end is worth sharing more widely though. If you don't know Mawson's epic survival journey you should - here's a very readable summary. In short - the odds against Mawson surviving were astronomical once his companions had died, he had next to no food and precious little gear. 

But he got through because he didn't give in - he gave it his all and made it. We too can achieve the seeming impossible and protect ourselves from the disasters of global warming if we give it our all.

Acting on Climate Change: Yes We Can

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Tuesday 21 January Day 45. 11pm. South of Hobart. ETA 7am tomorrow.

Tuesday 21 January 2014 at 11:28 am

I stood out on the monkey deck tonight just before sunset, riding the waves. We were surfing home. A stiff south westerly was blowing, whitecaps were cresting the 2m swell, and the ship was surging up and down riding the waves with aplomb.

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Saturday 18 January. Day 42. End of week 6. 55 degrees south, 130 degrees East

Saturday 18 January 2014 at 12:38 pm

It was dark tonight. I went out on deck to properly appreciate it. It has been dark for a short time each night over the last couple of nights, but tonight was the first time in over a month that I have properly experienced darkness. It still wasn’t that dark – because a full moon had risen and was gloriously reflected in the sea below, creating a silvery trail for us to follow all the way to Hobart. It was mesmerising to stand on the bridge and just watch us head into the glittering light.

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Thursday 16 January. Day 40. Homeward Bound

Thursday 16 January 2014 at 12:35 pm

We left Casey lunchtime yesterday. Pulled out in glorious sunshine, waved good bye to Newcomb Bay and the views of Casey, the islands, the white slopes and grey gnarled rocks of the headlands, the observatory dome of the abandoned Wilkes station and made our way through a glittering sea.

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Sunday 12 January Day 36. Beginning of week 6. Day 10 on the Aurora Australis.

Sunday 12 January 2014 at 12:34 pm

Five weeks on board ships. And another week and a half or so to go.

But my mood and I suspect that of others has shifted today.

It’s all action at Casey, as the Aurora Australis personnel resume the resupply that was so rudely interrupted by their journey east to rescue us from the ice, some three and a half weeks ago.

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Wednesday 8 January. Day 32, Day 6 on the Aurora Australis.

Wednesday 08 January 2014 at 4:09 pm

The phrase emotional roller coaster is an over-used cliché. It’s also a very useful description. The good news has came through that the Shokalskiy and the Xue Long have been able to free themselves from the ice, with a change in the wind. Shokalskiy is expected to be in open sea within two days, and an estimated date of arrival back in Bluff New Zealand on 14 January.

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Sunday 5 January 2014. Day 29

Sunday 05 January 2014 at 4:06 pm

Happy birthday Penny. I love you so much and I’m missing you so much. Hope you had a lovely day volcano spotting whilst I am here sailing the southern ocean

I have had such a relaxed day today. It’s been very special. It’s day 3 on the Aurora Australis, day 29 of our journey – the beginning of week 5.

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Saturday 4 January 2014. Day 28. Day 2/3 on the Aurora Australis

Saturday 04 January 2014 at 11:22 pm

Hello world!! Yes, I’m safe and sound, on the Aurora Australis on our way west to Casey. It’s so good to be back in touch and on ourway home!

Arriving on Aurora Australis was like returning to Australia after a long trip away. Friendly Australians to greet and welcome us, offer us cups of tea, make us feel at home. The relief of being safe and sound. Thanks flowed genuinely and profusely from all of us as we arrived.

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1 January 2014. Day 25. Beset, still.

Wednesday 01 January 2014 at 9:09 pm

New Year offers an opportunity for change, to reinvent oneself, to try something new and different. In which case I think being here is simultaneously highly appropriate and ill-fitting. I’ve just heard that 15 seconds of video of us singing ‘Bloody great shame we’re still stuck here!’ was featured on the CNN New Year’s Eve broadcast from Times Square today, to an estimated global TV audience of 70 million people. That’s new and different! I wasn’t thinking of that sort of exposure when I sat down at a table in the corner of the bar with Nicole, Terry and Ian the night before last composing a bit of a ditty for a few of us to sing!

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New Years Eve

Wednesday 01 January 2014 at 08:45 am

Happy New Year!

We heard this morning that that we are definitely going to be evacuated when the weather clears – maybe tomorrow… we’ll see!

Meanwhile today has been a lot of fun. I lead the writing of a song which we have rehearsed a few times today and which will be sung as part of our New Years Eve celebrations tonight. For your pleasure the words are below!

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Tuesday 31 December. New Years Eve. Day 24

Tuesday 31 December 2013 at 8:52 pm
I’m in much better spirits today. Couldn’t quite bring myself to write yesterday – feelings of homesickness, missing Penny, family and friends, uncertainty of how long we are going to be here for, and how exactly we will be getting out of here were rather overwhelming me. I think quite a few of us felt similarly. Judy instigated hug day and set herself the task of hugging everyone on board. It was much appreciated!
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Day 22. Beginning of week 4.

Sunday 29 December 2013 at 8:49 pm

We should have been half way back to New Zealand by now. Instead we’re enjoying our sixth day at 66˚41’ S, 144˚18’. ETA in New Zealand in the best case scenario is 9 January – 5 days late.

Regardless, there was lots of excitement today. This morning’s briefing provoked much discussion. We talked about the contingency plan if the Aurora Australis and Xue Long/ Snow Dragon are unable to free us. And the fact that it was probably a 50-50 chance as to whether it would have to be put into action.

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Saturday, 28 December 2013. Day 21.

Saturday 28 December 2013 at 8:54 pm

Wonderful views, secluded, surrounded by nature, amazing photographic opportunities… there are far worse places to be marooned.

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Thursday December 26. Day 19

Thursday 26 December 2013 at 8:20 pm

It’s summer. I’m on holidays. The weather is bad, so we’re stuck inside reading books, playing scrabble, watching movies and eating chocolate and leftovers from Christmas Day. Seems pretty normal really; a not unusual Boxing Day.

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