Traditionally, we’ve been taught not to talk about religion, money or politics. I find this a travesty, they’re the most interesting topics! Luckily, whilst my parents never discussed these things, they did watch two hours of news every weeknight “to stay informed.”
Always the stickybeak — and having ‘square eyes’ — I’d watch Nine News with Brian Naylor, A Current Affair with Ray Martin, ABC News with Ian Henderson and the 7:30 Report, first with Mary Delahunty, followed by Kerry O’Brien. Of course, 60 Minutes was essential viewing on weekends.
My sisters and I grew up surrounded by community service, whether it be through committees at our kindergarten or school, the CFA (Country Fire Authority), soccer club, guides and scouts or Sunday school.
My most vivid memories of childhood are those I saw on the news — Native Title, the first Gulf War and the 1993 and 1996 federal elections; plus, seeing the impact of policy-driven events like tariff reductions and “The Recession We Had to Have.”
I had no idea what to do when I left school. I’d had good relationships with my art teachers, so I decided I’d aim to be one. During my Fine Arts degree I’d skip class to attend history, politics and philosophy lectures — hardly responsible, but I learned a lot. After my degree, in an effort to raise my grade point average, I also completed a graduate certificate in Working with Indigenous Communities.
Whilst at university, I worked in a number of customer service roles. I’d learn as much as I could about the business and the industry, then I’d move on. During that time, I worked in the airline/travel industry, telecommunications, investment/finance and health insurance sectors.
Then, instead of doing my Diploma of Education, I worked for police communications taking triple-zero emergency calls for seven years, dealing with everything from noisy parties, road trauma, to the worse humans can do to themselves and each other. It was often gruelling, but rewarding.
I never expected to be here, but this pathway — and many other life events beside — has left me well equipped to represent my community.
I’m running as an Independent in Nicholls because my home, the Goulburn-Murray region, deserves better. We used to have a strong member in Sharman Stone who was active in the community, would reply to correspondence and who fought hard for her constituents. She may not have won every fight, but we knew that she was fighting for us. Like so many rural and regional electorates, we no longer have that.
It’s not hard to see the potential for this pioneering part of Victoria. We just need strong representatives from outside the major parties to take this ‘renovator’s delight’ and restore it to its former glory.
As we’ve seen in other electorates — both state and federal — if a formerly safe seat goes to the crossbench, both parties will try harder to please those constituents. In the case of Nicholls, Labor knows that it’s got a slim chance, whilst the Coalition has taken us for granted for decades.
If an Independent wins the seat, Labor will want them to retain it and the Coalition will want it back — no matter the outcome thereafter, the community wins.
Shoulder to the wheel
In terms of big projects, I want to complete the Shepparton Bypass, upgrade the Mangalore Airport and build an associated freight hub on site. The benefits to our primary producers, processors and those looking for work will far outweigh the cost.
In terms of region-specific policy, after ten years of social, economic and environmental degradation, we need to remove the speculators from the water market and create an equitable Murray-Darling Basin Plan. This will benefit our environment, family farmers and small businesses, right across the basin, and secure Australia’s food security.
As for the national policy outcomes that have been squibbed over the last five to ten years, my shoulder will be firmly to the wheel helping to secure an energy policy that can reduce pollution and prices, a National Broadband Network worthy of our entrepreneurial nation, and appropriate investment into mental health, domestic violence prevention, social housing, and substance abuse treatment — the social and economic benefits of which outstrip the current regime of austerity and efficiency dividends.
Walk and chew gum
I also want to run mental health first aid courses right across the electorate, to link the Silo Art Trail on our eastern border to those further west, and support a range of community initiatives aimed at boosting our visitor numbers, jobs and economy. If the government won’t come to the party, I will fund these myself.
Australians can walk and chew gum, we can listen to music and text at the same time. Our politics can no longer be about business versus workers, city versus country or left versus right — these false dichotomies are infantile and, frankly, insulting. Real people and real communities are more nuanced than that.
This election, I urge all voters to put party politics aside and to support the candidate who best represents you and your community. We all deserve better.