Senator Janet Rice on her bike to new career

Greens Senator-elect Janet Rice arrived in Wangaratta yesterday as she makes her way from Melbourne to Canberra. Picture: MATTHEW SMITHWICK

Greens Senator-elect Janet Rice arrived in Wangaratta yesterday as she makes her way from Melbourne to Canberra. Picture: MATTHEW SMITHWICK

JANET Rice reckons you can’t just talk the talk, you’ve got to walk the walk — or in her case, ride.

As the developer of Ride to Work Day, the nationwide event that encourages people to ditch four wheels in favour of two, Ms Rice is doing just that as she makes her way to her new job.

That job is as Greens Senator for Victoria in the new Senate from July 7, and that her commute is taking her from Melbourne to Canberra, just makes the ride more interesting.

Ms Rice rode into Wangaratta yesterday afternoon, meeting residents before speaking last night at a forum at Wangaratta TAFE on the federal budget.

Today she’ll make her way to Beechworth before heading to Wodonga for a gourmet local produce lunch tomorrow.

For many, this trip will be their first contact with the Senator-elect.

“It’s been a lovely opportunity to go on a listening tour and hear what people have to say,” she said.

“I can have a bit of a go at starting to take the pulse of the electorate.”

Between Palmer United’s three senators and the hotch-potch of minor party members in the new Senate, Ms Rice said its operation would be “interesting ... definitely not boring!”

Despite the Greens no longer holding the balance of power in the way it once did, she said the party’s votes would still be critical.

“In one way having that diversity is a really good thing for democracy — it means nothing can be taken for granted,” she said.

Among the issues close to her heart is climate change and she wants the government to start taking action on global warming.

Ms Rice studied climate science at Melbourne University, and said rural communities in particular could benefit from renewable energy investment.

Clive Palmer’s move to establish an emissions trading scheme and retain the Climate Change Authority offered hope, she said.

“Clive Palmer knows renewable energy has the support of the majority of the population,” she said.

Ms Rice will be responsible for the party’s infrastructure, tourism, forestry and transport portfolios, with high-speed rail another pet project.

As for the cycling?

Well, she concedes the Melbourne-Canberra commute may prove difficult to do all the time but she’s determined to keep riding from her Canberra home to Parliament House at the very least.

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