Braddon residents hoping to be heard deliver by-election messages to politicians


Updated

July 27, 2018 11:39:59

Since the resignation of federal Labor member Justine Keay, the seat of Braddon in Tasmania’s north-west has become a political battleground.

Tomorrow it will host one of the five by-elections being held around Australia.

The major parties have flown their leaders into Braddon to make promises and court votes, but what do the locals want most from their pollies?

We asked a few.

David, 73, fisherman from Somerset

“I’ve lived from Sandy Cape to Somerset. I grew up next to the brickyards here. You’d get up before dawn to head out and work your guts out all day, but there was a sense of freedom in seeing the sea and working the ocean.

“Things have changed since then, it’s much harder to work out a living as a fisherman.

“Red tape and larger-scale international operations are strangling us small operators. Our way of life is dying.

“I’ve never felt this disconnected from mainstream politics.

What worries me is what happens when I stop working to the people I employ? Where do they go and what do they do?

“We want changes so the little guys can grow. We are employers and could do with some support. It’s never been this bad in all of those years.

“This could be the end of small-scale commercial fishing on the north-west coast.

“I’d like to see small-scale fishers have a greater say in the industry with the backing of politicians.”

Cindy, 40, a mother of four from Smithton

“I was born here in Smithton, left the town when I was a baby and lived in South Australia until I was six.

“I returned and haven’t left since. I love this place but if there was one issue which I would fix it would have to be health.

“Getting to see a doctor and then seeing a specialist is a real problem for people in this area.

“My 15-year-old daughter has a congenital heart issue. We had to go to Melbourne to have it seen. That has a big impact on a busy family when you are raising kids and need to leave the state.

“My 20-year-old son has severe tonsillitis, and with the waiting lists up here we took him to Hobart to get seen quickly.

“We felt like we had no choice but it wasn’t right.

“How hard it is to access health experts is scary on the north-west coast. It’s not good enough for 21st-century Australia.

“I would like the federal and state governments to prioritise healthcare resources for our region.”

Ashleigh, 28, teacher from Penguin

“I moved to Tasmania [from interstate] sort of by accident.

“I’d applied to work as a teacher in a regional area but I had no idea where I would be going.

“I’m happy to have moved here but it’s hard being a young 20-something professional here.

“There is no infrastructure for young people, like good places to socialise.

“One of the biggest issues here is isolation. It would be good to have more support for businesses here who cater to younger demographics.

“Also as a teacher, seeing young people do well is important to me.

“I’d like to see them have more opportunities up here and for them to feel like they can achieve and that they don’t need to move away to make something of themselves.”

Damian, 33, mutton birder from Burnie

“I’ve lived on the north-west all my life and worked all around Tasmania.

“[I work] mutton birding during the season on Flinders [Island] and then fishing in the off season.

“I want to work more but fishing has been hit hard lately — I’ve noticed a lot more seals impacting our fisheries here.

“Money has never been a priority for me, but you can’t live on nothing.

“The space between poverty and having a life here is so small — even if something small happens it can make a huge difference.

“There is so much uncertainty and day-to-day worry. Politicians don’t seem to speak to those concerns very much, they aren’t talking about how they can practically help on a day-to-day level.

“I’d also like to hear how they can help Aboriginal people keep our younger generations connected to our culture.

“I wish politicians would try and think about the little people more.

“I love mutton birding but for me it’s not about the money, it’s about staying connected to my culture as an Aboriginal person.

“Staying connected to culture, you can’t put a value on that. Mutton birding is something I want to pass down to my kids. I learned it from my dad. I’ll teach my kids how to do it.”

Rob, 30, farmer from Riana

“The politicians aren’t focusing on the big challenges that are coming around the corner — the elimination of physical labour from the farming workforce.

“Technology is enabling us to employ less people but my worry is what happens to these people when the work isn’t there.

“We need to be doing a better job as a society training workers in the skills they need now for the jobs coming around the corner.

“This is happening right now in farming. I’ve been spending time in Europe seeing how they do things there, and it’s beginning to happen right now.

“So what happens when farming becomes automated? What opportunities await the workers? Will they be forced to go on welfare?

“This is such a massive question mark hanging over a lot of people in commercial farming and in agricultural communities.

“Since we are in large part a rural part of Tasmania, I’d like to see politicians focusing on these issues and not just focused so much on scoring political points.

“Where is the vision, the ambition?”

Dudley, 34, youth worker from Smithton

“I’m originally from Smithton but I’ve spent a lot of time working overseas and across Australia.

“I’ve lived in WA, the UK for a long time and the Caribbean.

“I always felt the urge to travel. I’m a landscapist by trade. I find the youth work really rewarding.

“I think the regional issues that happen in Smithton are the same in every single regional town.

“We have a real strength in being able to combat problems that cities can’t ever hope to wipe out because we have a strength in knowing each other.

“I see a lot of potential in the young minds in Smithton but not always the support to back that up.

“Our political leaders need to start acting like role models and inspire young people.

“I’d love to see a five-day-a-week space open for learning, career opportunities and contact with role models.

“To have a fully functioning youth centre for young people in Circular Head would make a massive difference.

“You get a lot of young people who leave the area and don’t come back.

“We want to develop an environment where people don’t think about their time here as, ‘I’m glad I’m in the city now’.

“We need to make it, ‘I’m going to harvest skills and knowledge elsewhere and come back to my community’.”

Liz, 77, celebrant from Burnie

“I moved here six years ago from Tenterfield shire in northern New South Wales.

“I moved for the climate. I’m happy I made the move.

“For me, I don’t feel disconnected from politics at all — it’s about getting out there and being involved.

“I’ll be out helping on election day.

“Funding for preventative and mental health has been very badly neglected here.

“I walk everyday. I walk on the beach. I have a reasonable diet. I’m a non-smoker. But there aren’t any services out there for our needs.

“I do volunteering with the high school and a lot of kids don’t have much of an idea with what they should be eating, doing, exercising.

“This is our future. We need to do a better job of keeping them motivated.

“A big problem I’ve seen is just a lack of interest — there are things out there, we have a great art gallery but it’s often nearly empty.

“You can spend a morning in the gallery and no one walks in at all — that’s a sad state of affairs.

“Lucky I have my ferret Acacia. I’ve had her four years. She’s good for exercise. I put her on the lead and take her down the street.”

Topics:

government-and-politics,

community-and-society,

elections,

strahan-7468,

penguin-7316,

smithton-7330,

burnie-7320,

australia

First posted

July 27, 2018 05:27:49



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