THE Nationals party has attracted two high-calibre candidates for the upcoming federal election.
Langhorne Creek dairyfarmer James Stacey is number one on the Nationals ticket for SA in the Senate, and last week, Keith-based agricultural advisor James De Barro launched his campaign as the Nationals candidate in the blue-ribbon Liberal seat of Barker.
Both men have seen political clout at the state and federal level.
Mr Stacey has been involved in dairy agropolitics and giving evidence to the Senate inquiry on the supermarkets' $1-a-litre milk price wars and Mr De Barro led the public fight to reinstate funding for the community owned Keith & District Hospital as its chairman.
They believe the best way to give rural communities their voice back is to be in Canberra and are committed to being part of Coalition government if elected on September 14.
Mr De Barro has been an active member of the Keith community for the past 25 years and wants to give South East and Riverland voters an alternative in Barker - one of the nation's safest Liberal seats.
He says voters have been taken for granted for too long and sees himself as a "change agent".
"Because it is a safe seat, the Liberal party has already ticked the box. As long as the electorate votes that way they will get what they deserve," he said.
"A vote for a National is a vote for a conservative government but will get someone focussed for rural Australia championing their needs as opposed to a Liberal representative towing the party line. The Liberal candidate is a lap dog – I'm not."
Mr DeBarro is co-owner of Alpha Group Consulting and a farmer and has had enough of the major political parties focussed on spending money in the cities at the expense of rural Australia.
"Too many think their milk comes from a carton and their meat on a styrofoam tray," he said.
"The government is pushing the cost of living but country people are being hardest hit and these are the people who are producing our food."
He wants to see integrated policies rather than a silo approach to key areas of health and education, and policies to attract city-based businesses to relocate to regional areas to form more vibrant communities.
Mr DeBarro is keen to provide financial incentives to encourage students to return to rural areas when they have finished their tertiary education or trades. He stressed the need for incentives to attract doctors to rural areas and more flexibility for aged care bed licences in regional hospitals.
He also has a long list of roads within the electorate which need urgent attention.
Full report in Stock Journal, February 14 issue, 2013.