Hawkins cam­paigns lo­cal­lly

Alpine Observer - - Front Page - By STRUAN JONES

IN­DE­PEN­DENT can­di­date for Be­nam­bra Jac­qui Hawkins was on the road last week, driv­ing up the Kiewa Val­ley to Ded­erang and Mount Beauty to chat with res­i­dents about the up­com­ing Novem­ber 24 elec­tion.

Hawkins, a proud lo­cal of the re­gion who grew up on the fam­ily farm in Staghorn Flat and at­tended pri­mary school at Kiewa Val­ley, has been on the cam­paign trail since she an­nounced in April she would chal­lenge the Lib­eral in­cum­bent Bill Til­ley (MLA) for the seat.

Mr Til­ley has held the seat now for 12 years, and Ms Hawkins be­lieves it’s time to make it mar­ginal and in­de­pen­dent.

“The rea­son I put my hand up was be­cause I feel like it’s a real op­por­tu­nity, and it’s time for a change,” Ms Hawkins told the Alpine

Ob­server at the Ded­erang Pub last Thurs­day af­ter­noon.

“The lead­er­ship here has be­come stag­nant, and it’s time we made Be­nam­bra mat­ter, and the way we can make it mat­ter is to make it mar­ginal.”

This is not Ms Hawkins’ first dig in pol­i­tics, hav­ing worked pre­vi­ously with the Cathy Mc­Gowan team, an ex­pe­ri­ence she said gave her a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of pol­i­tics as she watched Mc­Gowan set a model for other in­de­pen­dents.

Ac­cord­ing to Ms Hawkins, par­ti­san pol­i­tics has left peo­ple won­der­ing how their voices get heard in par­lia­ment, and be­lieves peo­ple “aren’t see­ing the changes they nec­es­sar­ily want on the ground,”

“That’s why I put my hand up as an in­de­pen­dent, be­cause you’re not bound by party pol­i­tics – you’re bound by your peo­ple, and that’s the voice you take to par­lia­ment,” she said.

The main con­cerns she has picked up from Be­nam­bra lo­cals are health­care, ed­u­ca­tion – in­clud­ing ac­ces­si­ble child­care out­side of the ma­jor cen­tres, pas­sen­ger trains, and wild deer and dog man­age­ment.

With the Lib­eral Coali­tion an­nounc­ing a $19 bil­lion in­vest­ment prom­ise in re­gional rail if elected, Ms Hawkins be­lieves North East lo­cals will start to ex­pect an im­proved train ser­vice pretty quickly.

“That’s what we need to make sure is whichever party gets elected, they need to be ac­count­able in that area, and that’s why we need to make this elec­torate mar­ginal, so we can re­ally have a voice in par­lia­ment.”

Be­fore mov­ing on to Mount Beauty, Ms Hawkins made a point of show­ing the

Ob­server her dad’s horse’s name etched onto the wall as the 2015 Ded­erang Cup win­ner.

How­ever when it comes to the state elec­tion, noth­ing is writ­ten on the wall just yet, through Ms Hawkins is op­ti­mistic.

“I think be­ing young and be­ing fe­male is a re­ally great thing to­day, and the cli­mate is chang­ing in pol­i­tics, so it’s an ex­cit­ing time to be an in­de­pen­dent.”

IN­DE­PEN­DENT: Can­di­date for Be­nam­bra Jac­qui Hawkins with chair of Up­per Kiewa Val­ley Com­mu­nity As­so­ci­a­tion Jodee Beth when she dropped by the Mount Beauty Bak­ery last week.

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