Pooches, Pills And Power: Why The ACT Is Surprisingly OMG

The NT wants to C U there but the ACT is fast becoming the place to be.

Australia's capital is smashing renewable energy goals, legalising cannabis, tightening laws around pet ownership and leading the charge with pill testing - moves that are making serious waves nationally.

The recent changes have politics experts touting the ACT as the most-forward thinking place in the country.

Monash University Politics Lecturer Zareh Ghazarian said the territory is "positioning themselves to be on the cutting edge of social progressive policy."

The ACT is getting a reputation for being forward-thinking. Image: Getty Images

Ghazarian said ACT's reputation for housing forward-thinkers is nothing new, pointing to their push for the same-sex marriage vote to legalise as early as 2013.

"It's partly because of the size and the geography of the jurisdiction," Ghazarian said.

"Canberra is the metro centre of it and as a result, [Canberrans] are able to not dictate the policy, but have a good say."

While the ACT may be small, it is delivering on big promises that other governments haven't been able to commit to.

Here's some of the territory's recent moves which have made Australia say 'OMG'.

The Power Play 

Canberra is powering towards a transition to 100 percent renewable energy, something no other government in Australia, or outside Europe, has done.

It's a promise the ACT government first made almost a decade ago and that milestone is on track to be reached by January 2020.

ACT is kicking power goals. Image: Martin Ollman/Getty Images

Canberra's entire energy supply comes from large-scale solar and wind energy projects sources from the territory itself and other states.

David Craven, Director of the Cities Power Partnership, told 10 daily the energy switch didn't happen overnight.

"The ACT is showing us the way, trailblazing, punching above their weight and they have been for some time," he said.

"They are now on par with some of the leaders in the world [in terms of renewables] such as Copenhagen and Stockholm."

drugs marijuana
The ACT made headlines when it became the first place in Australia to legalise cannabis for personal use. Image: Getty Images.

Legalising cannabis

Last week the ACT made headlines after it became the first in the nation to legalise small amounts of cannabis for personal use.

New laws, which kick in February 2020, allow an adult Canberran to possess 50 grams of marijuana and grow two plants for personal use. It will still be illegal to buy weed or share a joint.

The territory is also increasing drug and alcohol abuse support services and has introduced specific drug courts to its legal system.

READ MORE: Canberra's Cannabis Critics Need To Find Bigger Problems To Worry About

Image: Getty

Pill tests 

The territory has supported pill-testing as a way to protect party-goers from harmful drugs.

Trials at Canberra's Groovin The Moo in 2018 and 2019 were deemed "successful" as it protected a handful of punters from taking potentially deadly substances.

The success has led to a push for pill-testing to be introduced across the country, but not all medical experts and governments agree that its the right way to go.

READ MORE: The Facts: How Pill Testing Would Work In Australia

The ACT has led the way on pill-testing trials. Image: 10 daily

Pets are treated like people 

The ACT now recognises animals as 'sentient beings,' rather than 'property'.

The legislation states animals 'deserve to be treated with compassion' and recognises an animal's right to food, water, shelter, clean living and general care.

Pet owners who tie their dog up without exercise for 24 hours are threatened with fines and ignoring a pet with flea infected skin could attract jail time.

READ MORE: ACT Dog Owners To Be Fined $4,000 For Not Walking Their Pets

If you treat your pooch poorly you'll be in the doghouse in the ACT. Image: Getty

Clean future 

Now the territory is focused on reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2045.

The territory unveiled its roadmap last month which includes increasing the number of electric cars on the roads and planting tens of thousands of trees.

Close to $17 million has been allocated towards the strategy to help tackle climate change.