Libs’ re­mote area vote lan­guishes

Pilbara News - - News - Tom Zaun­mayr

In­dige­nous en­gage­ment in the North West con­tin­ues to be a sore point for the coali­tion with polling pat­terns from mo­bile teams show­ing the Lib­eral vote lan­guish­ing be­low 15 per cent.

Du­rack MHR Melissa Price was safely re­turned to her seat with nearly 42 per cent of first pref­er­ence votes, but at­tracted just 13 per cent of votes from the six re­mote mo­bile teams, down from 17 per cent in 2013.

Polling from re­mote mo­bile team two, which cov­ered ar­eas such as Roe­bourne, Nul­lagine, Yande­yarra and Wakathuni, had Ms Price’s pri­mary vote be­low 10 per cent.

La­bor can­di­date Carol Martin ac­counted for 61 per cent of RMT votes, up from Darren Keogh’s 47 per cent in 2013.

Greens can­di­date Ian James out-polled the Lib­eral party in three of six RMTs.

Ngar­luma el­der Violet Sam­son said vot­ers in Roe­bourne had lit­tle idea who any of the can­di­dates were be­cause they were never around town.

“It’s re­ally im­por­tant to come around to hear what in­dige­nous peo­ple are con­cerned about in their com­mu­ni­ties and how can we deal with them,” she said.

“We do re­ally not know the back­ground of the peo­ple we vot­ing for.

“We don’t know who (Ms Martin) is but just be­cause she in­dige­nous peo­ple go for her and if she re­ally has a good heart she will do a good job for us.”

Ms Sam­son said it would be good if Ms Price sat down with el­ders and com­mu­nity mem­bers to help build a re­la­tion­ship.

Ms Price said there were sev­eral poli­cies in place in the com­ing years aimed at im­prov­ing the lives of those liv­ing in re­mote com­mu­ni­ties.

“The Turn­bull Gov­ern­ment is in­vest­ing $3.1 bil­lion over the next four fi­nan­cial years on in­dige­nous health, an in­crease of over $500 mil­lion on the pre­vi­ous four years,” she said.

“We are also in­vest­ing $94 mil­lion to ex­pand ef­forts to im­prove child and ma­ter­nal health through the Bet­ter Start to Life pro­gram, and we are pro­vid­ing around $45 mil­lion to im­prove the eye health of Abo­rig­i­nal and Tor­res Strait Is­lan­der peo­ple.”

Ms Martin said lin­ger­ing rhetoric of de-fund­ing and clo­sure of re­mote com­mu­ni­ties would have had an im­pact.

“Let’s face it, in­dige­nous af­fairs has been in the desert since 2005,” she said.

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