CANDIDATES from the electorate in the state’s north-west are Labor’s Eddie Hughes, Liberal Mark Walsh, the Greens’ Anna Taylor, Australian Conservatives’ Cheryl Kaminski, SA Best’s Tom Antonio and Dignity Party’s Cyanne Westerman.
What do you believe is the biggest challenge facing Giles?
HUGHES: Ensuring the survival of the steel industry in Whyalla. Closure would have had a devastating impact on the Whyalla community. We are working on the assistance package for the new owners which will unlock investment and jobs.
WALSH: Giles needs more employment for kids to keep them here and provide a future for our grandkids. Our region’s economy is heavily reliant on our quality agricultural products and pristine fisheries, so we need to support our primary industries to allow them to grow.
TAYLOR: Whether it is unacceptable mining proposals, closure of localised mineral processing in Whyalla, threats to underground water, or land degradation in agricultural areas, I feel that there are a lot of voices being ignored in Giles. The proposed nuclear waste dump at Kimba or Hawker is a perfect example of short-term dollars offered in exchange for long-term problems.
KAMINSKI: The issues include a lack of health services, our roads are a mess and something desperately needs to be done to address mental health. For the past nine years our elected members have been the only ones pushing a Royalties for Regions policy which would return $88m back into regional communities.
WESTERMAN: We need more accessible ramps and toilets in businesses and shops in Whyalla. There is also a need for increased services, especially more qualified people to assist with therapy for children with disabilities. We need to utilise the benefits of the NDIS.
What do you see as the major issue affecting SA agriculture? How would you rectify this?
HUGHES: Most of the electorate is made up of pastoral properties and one of the issues affecting stations is the quality and maintenance of unsealed roads. I strongly support greater local involvement in road maintenance. Funding should be provided to ensure the work can be carried out locally.
WALSH: Rain – always has been, always will be. We need to diligently manage our natural resources and ensure local representation as part of this process. We will repeal the Natural Resources Management Act 2004 and put in place a new approach, Landscape SA.
TAYLOR: Climate change and our ability to adapt to this challenge poses the biggest threat to agriculture. I believe supporting farmers in regenerative farming practices and diversifying their land use will help landowners adapt to the consequences of climate change.
KAMINSKI: In Giles, agriculture is a major contributor to the economy and major employer, yet Labor has not given the support or the investment to our farmers and graziers. We advocate for more money towards research and development, we fight for food producers’ Right to Farm legislation and have fought to give money back to the regions through Royalties for Regions.
WESTERMAN: Consumer confidence is high, but there is pressure on families accessing services in regional areas. Agriculture is a sector that can only be as strong as the people working in it, so looking at ways to boost the mental health capacity of people, and especially the women who are responsible for a lot of off-farm income may be a good strategy.
What are your views on allowing mining on prime farming land in Giles?
HUGHES: I come from a mining community and understand the enormous contribution mining makes. There is limited conflict in the pastoral zone between mining and agriculture. If it can be demonstrated there is a major net state benefit from mining on prime land the effected landholders need to be generously compensated. The issue goes beyond money and people have a strong sense of place, and there are areas that are so valuable in agricultural terms they should be off limits.
WALSH: Both farming and mining is well established in the region. The mineral deposits seem to be outside the farming areas of Giles so there should be no conflict. If a conflict did arise, we are committed to ensuring both parties are adequately represented.
TAYLOR: We need to protect prime farmland from mining, oil and gas extraction including ‘fracking’ for unconventional gas, which can affect soil, groundwater and surface water quality. When conflicts arise between competing land uses or rights, the law is stacked in favour of mining companies.
KAMINSKI: Another way to protect agriculture is to stop invasive open cut mining on our arable farm land. The Australian Conservatives will amend legislation to annex arable land from this invasive mining practice.
WESTERMAN: It is important to balance the environmental impact of mining with the economic benefit to SA. Agriculture and food production brings millions of dollars into the local economy but we need to keep prime farming land to secure our food future.
Do you support the moratorium on genetically-modified crops? Why?
HUGHES: I support the current moratorium but we should ultimately be guided by robust, independent scientific advice and an assessment of market demand.
WALSH: I think we need to make a decision based on science not politics. We should examine the evidence and benefits available to industry. If the evidence shows it’s safe and beneficial for our producers, using this technology could prove to be very advantageous for our primary industries.
TAYLOR: I support the moratorium extension because I believe that non GMO foods attract a premium. Containing GMO crops within boundaries is next to impossible, and the potential increase in herbicide use is unacceptable to consumers, agricultural ecosystems and the environment.
- Tom Antonio was invited to participate but did not respond before deadline.
LIBERAL – Mark Walsh
LIBERAL Party candidate Mark Walsh left school in the 1970s to work on the family farm at Mitchellville, which focused on growing wool, raising lambs and trying to grow a lot of wheat.
But after three droughts, Mr Walsh decided to embark on a different career, and for the last six years has been a dump truck operator at Iron Duke.
“I have been fortunate to work with a wide range of people and my standing for the election has been influenced by both careers,” he said.
Mr Walsh said the region was suffering due to high power prices and high government costs.
“The only time country people seem to see anyone or any money from a Weatherill Labor government is promises just before an election,” he said.
“I want to provide a strong voice for the people of Giles.”
GREENS – Anna Taylor
ANNA Taylor believes we can all make a difference by starting small, keeping a low footprint and living by example. She has lived off grid for 20 years and has built up a permaculture property with her partner and our two children.
She opposes storing nuclear waste and exploration in the Great Australian Bight.
“It is important to have a government that is not accepting handouts from multi-nationals to make decision concerning our environment and industries,” she said.
LABOR – Eddie Hughes
EDDIE Hughes has been the Member for Giles for the past four years and prior to standing was actively involved in community matters as a councillor on the Whyalla City Council for 23 years.
“I am motivated by a strong sense of a fair go, which is reflected in a commitment to ensuring sustainable development in order to generate jobs and business opportunities while ensuring we hand on our world in a decent state to future generations,” he said.
AUSTRALIAN CONSERVATIVES – Cheryl Kaminski
CHERYL Kaminski grew up as the daughter of a country police officer, has lived in rural towns her whole life and has a heart for regional SA as a result.
She has worked in the banking and building industries and as a swimming instructor for the Department of Education.
“I think the people of Giles need strong, principled representation and Australian Conservatives policies are very much focused on regional SA,” Ms Kaminski said.
SA BEST – Tom Antonio
TOM Antonio is a Whyalla businessman and community leader. For the past 11 years, Mr Antonio has been a member of the Whyalla City Council, serving as deputy mayor and acting mayor during the Steel City’s most turbulent times.
He moved to Whyalla 40 years ago as an apprentice electrician and built up Electrical Discounters to become the largest electrical retailer in regional SA.
Mr Antonio wants to ensure GFG Alliance, the new owner of the steel works, has all the support needed to succeed in achieving its bold expansion plans and he is determined to build an even stronger economic future for his city and the regions in the seat of Giles.
He is aware of other issues in Giles, including energy bills, job security, vocational training, substance abuse, mental health and aged care services, education and road infrastructure.
DIGNITY PARTY – Cyanne Westerman
BASED on living as a young woman with a disability, Dignity Party’s Cyanne Westerman wants to speak out and take the opportunity to change the world so that it better includes people with disability.
“Our education and health systems need to get serious about ensuring everyone has more knowledge about people with disabilities,” she said.
“The rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme will not change the health and education systems, it’s up to them to ensure the dignity of students, teachers and clients.”