Hawkins campaigns locallly
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.