Libs’ remote area vote languishes
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.