Eden-Monaro Votes: Meet Your Candidates

With two weeks until the May 18 federal election, we asked all Eden-Monaro candidates about who they were and why they are deserving of your vote.

Each was given the same list of questions, timeframe to answer and word limit.

Those who submitted their answers, in the order they will appear on the ballot paper, are below.

Mike Kelly, Labor

Mike Kelly, Australian Labor Party

Mike Kelly, Australian Labor Party

Name

Mike Kelly

Political Party

ALP

Age

59

Family

Wife Shelly and Son Ben

Where do you live?

Queanbeyan

What do you do for a living?

Federal Member for Eden-Monaro. Before entering Parliament, I served in the Australian Regular Army with 20 years of service and a further 10 years in the Army Reserves. During my time I was deployed to international operations in Somalia, Bosnia, East Timor and Iraq. I was also part of a successful hostage recovery mission to Kenya in 1996. I was awarded the Chief of the General Staff's Commendation in 1993, made a Member of the Order of Australia in the Military Division in 1994, and received the United Nations Force Commander's Commendation in 2002 for my service in East Timor.

How long have you lived in the Eden-Monaro electorate? What is the best part of living in the Eden-Monaro electorate?

My family and I have lived continuously in the region for over 180 years so settling on Queanbeyan as a permanent home after serving in the Army was an obvious choice. We have a proud history as part of our region. My great-great-great grandfather built the Tathra Wharf, my great-great grandfather founded the Bega Cheese Co-op and was its first chairman, his son, Benjamin George Kelly, ran for the seat of Eden-Monaro in 1940 and my grand uncle, Father John Kelly, was the parish priest in Bombala and Braidwood, before becoming Monsignor and the Inspector of Catholic Education for the region.

Why are you running for the seat of Eden-Monaro?

I believe the people of Eden-Monaro deserve a hard-working member, who will fight for them with passion and commitment but also have the vision and initiative to advocate for the big things that our growing region needs. I am the only candidate with extensive experience of government and I have a strong record of delivering the big infrastructure projects in our region like the South East Regional Hospital and the Bega Bypass. This campaign I've secured Labor commitments for the Barton Highway duplication, Dunns Creek Road, and the Eden Port Foreshore Precinct Development, just to name a few.

What is your political experience?

I was the Member for Eden Monaro from November 2007 to September 2013. During this term, I held several portfolio positions including Parliamentary Secretary for Defence Support, Parliamentary Secretary for Water, and Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Parliamentary Secretary for Defence with responsibility for Transition in Afghanistan. In 2013 I was appointed Minister for Defence Materiel.

Since being re-elected in 2016, I have been the Assistant Shadow Minister for Defence Industry and Support, a member of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security and co-convenor of the Parliamentary Friends of the Prevention of Suicide.

The crippling effects of the drought continue to be felt by the electorate's farmers. What kinds of measures would you fight to install to drought-proof the region? Is the creation of more dams part of the solution, and if so, where should they be located?

Serious action on droughts and their effects mean taking serious action to prevent catastrophic climate change and to adapt to climate change we cannot avoid. Supporting drought recovery is critical but so is investing to ensure the quality of our agricultural resources. Labor's Carbon Farming Initiative will assist farmers in deploying investment in improving the quality and productivity of soil. It will enable them to diversify their income by assigning marginal areas of their properties to plantation or reforestation. We will reinstitute the COAG drought mechanism that the Coalition destroyed and we will pursue more efficient water use and technology.

Do you support the proposal to relocate immigrants to regional centres as a means of relieving pressure on metropolitan infrastructure and increasing the population of and diversity in country towns and cities? If so, what would be needed in the regions for this to occur?

I believe we should strive to retain our demographic balance by making sure our regions are attractive places for people to stay and for migrants to come to. We can do this by ensuring the quality of our health and education services and aged care and that there are a diversity of rewarding employment opportunities. We are very well placed to do this with the lifestyle we can offer, location relative to Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra and potential for new and enhanced industries.

Do you agree with the idea of decentralising government departments to regional areas, and, if so, which departments would you like to see be relocated to the Eden-Monaro electorate?

The fact that government will continue with its ruinous decentralisation policy is a testament to the fact that the Liberals and Nationals seem to have forgotten the importance of our Nation's Capital, not just for the local area but for thousands of small businesses in South Eastern NSW that economically depend on Canberra's population. What's worse, many of the jobs and agencies being relocated are moving to larger cities such as Adelaide and Perth, not small regional towns as promised.

What's your vision for our region and how will you encourage more people to live here?

The vision I have pursued for the last 12 years is coming to fruition. The new job opportunities from our growing renewable energy industry are tremendous, and our tourism industry has had a boost from new pieces of public infrastructure like the Eden Wharf upgrades and Canberra International Airport. I will support our local timber industry by expanding our plantation resource with Labor's enhanced Carbon Farming Initiative and supportive policies. I've also been fighting improved local health facilities; more funding to our local schools and Labor will rebuild our TAFEs and create more local apprenticeships.

What is your stance on the future of coal mining for the region? Do you support renewable energy? How do you believe Eden-Monaro is positioned to take advantage of these?

Labor understands that our region is the canary in the coalmine when it comes to climate change. Whether it's our ski industry, our farming and agricultural sector or tourism, our ability to survive and prosper in Eden-Monaro depends on a consistent and reliable climate.

A Labor Government will take action on climate change and invest in renewable energy, supporting new wind and solar farms and the expansion of the Snowy Hydro to create sustainable jobs for the region supported by Labor's commitment to achieving its renewable energy target of 50 per cent by 2030 and net zero emissions by 2050.

The South-East is seeing a big community push for significant renewable energy investment and opportunities. It is also a region partly dependent on employment opportunities in logging, and struggling with increasing power costs. How do you stand on those issues, or plan to reconcile them?

In January, I announced that a Labor Government would make the Far South Coast home to the first of ten Community Power Hubs. This will reduce power prices, create jobs, and take real action to combat climate change. It was great to make this announcement in the town that gave us the Clean Energy for Eternity team. Our climate change policy and the timber industry are not mutually exclusive. Our Carbon Farming Initiative policy will result in a significant expansion of the plantation industry and the opportunity to generate earnings from forests as carbon sinks.

The South-East and Far South Coast would have to be among the most enticing places to live (no bias of course!) but it also one of the most unaffordable according to recent data. What are your plans and party policies surrounding housing affordability - for buyers and renters?

It is obvious to everyone except Scott Morrison, that Australia is in the midst of a housing affordability crisis. Labor knows that Australians are struggling to enter the housing market, let alone finding affordable rental accommodation. At this election, Australians will have the opportunity to vote for Labor's comprehensive plan to improve housing affordability and increase housing supply. We will reform negative gearing, and support the construction of 250,000 new affordable homes over the next decade.

Fiona Kotvojs, Liberal

Fiona Kotvojs, Liberal Party

Fiona Kotvojs, Liberal Party

Name: Fiona Kotvojs

Political Party: Liberal

Age: 55 (I am surprised you ask this given current anti-discrimination laws)

Family: Husband, two adult step children, two grandchildren, nieces and God children, father and brother.

Where do you live? Dignams Creek (between Narooma and Bega).

What do you do for a living? Currently I work with community groups and government agencies across Australia, the Pacific and south-east Asia to determine how problems in the community or nation can be addressed. Design programs to address these issues. Evaluate the implementation of programs to determine whether the program achieved what was intended and how it can be improved. This includes education, health, agriculture, law and justice sectors. I operate two small businesses and my family beef farm. Previously I was a high school teacher, completed environmental impact assessments, designed and built beaches and managed a large business in Australia and internationally.

How long have you lived in the Eden-Monaro electorate? Born here (Bega), went to primary school in Cobargo and high school in Bega, left for work and returned in 2005.

What is the best part of living in the Eden-Monaro electorate? I can't pick just one thing, it is the package. Space, lack of crowds, community, diversity, ... Where else would you want to live!

Why are you running for the seat of Eden-Monaro?

After high school, there were few opportunities to study or work locally. When I returned in 2005, there were still few work opportunities for young people. I realised most Eden-Monaro rural communities are losing our life-blood as young people move away.

I know how to change this from my experience analysing and implementing programs to successfully address constraints to communities, agencies and countries across Asia-Pacific. We need long-term perspectives not quick fixes, address causes rather than symptoms. We must start now or face the same situation in 30 years. I'm running for Eden-Monaro because I can start this change now.

What is your political experience?

I have never been a political adviser or politician. However, at a local government level, I was one of the leaders of the successful work to protect private property rights against changes proposed by Eurobodalla Council. As a senior manager in international development, I liaised with members of parliament to Prime Minister level in Australia and across the Pacific and south-east Asia.

The crippling effects of the drought continue to be felt by the electorate's farmers. What kinds of measures would you fight to install to drought-proof the region? Is the creation of more dams part of the solution, and if so, where should they be located?

The Morrison Government adopts a coordinated approach across agencies, ensures affected farming families and communities are supported and builds resilience against drought through the Future Drought Fund. The Fund will enable $100 million annual investment in water infrastructure and drought resilience. We will establish a $7 million Drought Communities Small Business Support Program and create a restocking and replanting concessional loan. I strongly support this proactive approach.

Location of dams should be determined through proper studies and in accordance with due process, not by a politician. I will therefore leave the decision about location of dams to the proper process.

Do you support the proposal to relocate immigrants to regional centres as a means of relieving pressure on metropolitan infrastructure and increasing the population of and diversity in country towns and cities? If so, what would be needed in the regions for this to occur?

I support the relocation of immigrants to regional centres. I can remember when Vietnamese refugees came to the Bega Valley when I was a child. They were welcomed into the community, integrated successfully and brought new and needed skills and expertise to the area. It was a win-win situation.

For this to occur we need to identify a range of strategies to implement to increase the numbers of health and allied health professionals. This is necessary regardless of the relocation of immigrants.

Do you agree with the idea of decentralising government departments to regional areas, and, if so, which departments would you like to see be relocated to the Eden-Monaro electorate?

I agree with decentralising government departments to regions where there is a sound basis for this. The decision as to which departments to move and where should be based on a robust analysis of the department and regional synergies. I believe movement of Forestry to the Tumut - Bombala area of the Eden-Monaro electorate should be the first considered. This appears to provide synergies with the region and also enables easy access to the national capital when required.

What's your vision for our region and how will you encourage more people to live here?

My vision is strong, liveable communities. Most Eden-Monaro rural communities are losing our life-blood as young people move away for work. This happened when I left Bega High School: it still does. Closer to Canberra, the need is to ensure that, as they grow, communities remain the liveable environments that led to people to move there originally.

From my experience I know how to change this. The Federal Member must facilitate coordinated approaches by Local, State and Federal Governments covering: transport infrastructure (Princes Highway and upgrade or replacement of Brown Mountain); mobile communications; strengthening small business and agriculture employment bases; plus demand driven skills training.

What is your stance on the future of coal mining for the region? Do you support renewable energy? How do you believe Eden-Monaro is positioned to take advantage of these?

I am unaware of coal resources in the Eden-Monaro electorate. I support renewable energy. This is demonstrated by my own home being 100% renewables and fully off-grid.

As an electorate, Eden-Monaro is well positioned to take advantage of renewables with the development of Snowy 2.0 by the Liberal Government. This will allow firming of the wind and solar generated renewable energy, significantly improving the viability of renewable energy. I look forward to increasing installation of renewables as we are able to firm the power generated.

The South-East is seeing a big community push for significant renewable energy investment and opportunities. It is also a region partly dependent on employment opportunities in logging, and struggling with increasing power costs. How do you stand on those issues, or plan to reconcile them?

I support renewable energy - demonstrated by my own home being 100% renewables and fully off-grid. I would support investments in renewable power where they meet planning requirements. I note the concerns many local residents have with large wind generators near homes, line-of-sight, or environmentally sensitive areas. This requires careful planning.

I support a well-managed sustainable timber industry. Timber is a renewable resource and must be managed as such.

The Liberal Government has introduced a range of initiatives which will reduce the cost of power. Labor's proposed 45% reduction target will increase the wholesale price of power by 58%, increasing power prices.

The South-East and Far South Coast would have to be among the most enticing places to live (no bias of course!) but it also one of the most unaffordable according to recent data. What are your plans and party policies surrounding housing affordability - for buyers and renters?

The Liberal Government's plan to improve housing outcomes unlocks supply, creates incentives and improves outcomes for those most in need. This includes providing $7.5 billion over five years to states and territories (National Housing and Homelessness Agreement), $620 million for homelessness services and a $1 billion National Housing Infrastructure Facility to help unlock new housing supply including social housing.

The Liberal Government implements the First Home Super Saver Scheme helping Australians buy their first home; contributes $4.5 billion annually in Commonwealth Rent Assistance and provides affordable housing investors a Capital Gains Tax discount to 60 per cent to increase supply.

Pat McGinlay, The Greens

Pat McGinlay, Greens

Pat McGinlay, Greens

Name: Pat McGinlay

Political Party: The Greens

Age: 63

Family: Married to Chris; between us we have 3 adult children and four grandchildren

Where do you live? Dalmeny

What do you do for a living? Shire Councillor

How long have you lived in the Eden-Monaro electorate? approx. 14 years

What is the best part of living in the Eden-Monaro electorate? The beautiful environment ranging from mountains, the forests and the beaches. Also not living in a city.

Why are you running for the seat of Eden-Monaro? I was inspired to join the Greens primarily because they were the only party that were taking climate change seriously. They remain the only party with the policies in place and a plan to move to a renewable energy future with sufficient urgency to help us try to minimise further global warming. I believe I have the skills to represent the electorate and promote sensible, science-based policy.

What is your political experience? I have been a local councillor in Eurobodalla since Sept 2016. I also have a B.A. degree with a major in Political Science.

The crippling effects of the drought continue to be felt by the electorate's farmers. What kinds of measures would you fight to install to drought-proof the region? Is the creation of more dams part of the solution, and if so, where should they be located?

The most effective way to minimise the impacts of climate change is to tackle the broad issue of minimising the man-made contributions to it. Hence the overriding need to move to a renewable energy- based economy. In terms of local mitigation measures, I would be listening to the views of rural producers themselves backed by science and would put all support necessary to help implement their planned solutions.

Do you support the proposal to relocate immigrants to regional centres as a means of relieving pressure on metropolitan infrastructure and increasing the population of and diversity in country towns and cities? If so, what would be needed in the regions for this to occur?

I believe migrants should be given every encouragement to live and work in regional areas. The key is to be able to provide stable and ongoing employment opportunities. It should also be a focus to assist and encourage them to start and build small businesses, particularly where there is a service gap in a local area.

Do you agree with the idea of decentralising government departments to regional areas, and, if so, which departments would you like to see be relocated to the Eden-Monaro electorate?

I believe it would be beneficial to relocate some particular functions and services provided by Federal Departments and Agencies rather than the actual department or agency itself. The important thing would be to boost employment and the local communities, so the actual functions are not so important, just whichever could be still be effective in a remote role, and easiest to transfer.

What's your vision for our region and how will you encourage more people to live here?

I envision:

- A region where high quality free public education from preschool through to TAFE and undergraduate university degrees can be studied locally offering a great variety of qualifications.

- A region valley where eco-tourism in marine and native forest and alpine environments provides core employment opportunities for many.

- A region using 100% renewable energy by 2030 with community owned renewable energy providers.

- A region which can showcase sustainable agricultural systems and methods.

What is your stance on the future of coal mining for the region? Do you support renewable energy? How do you believe Eden-Monaro is positioned to take advantage of these?

The Greens' policy is that coal production, as a leading cause of green-house gas emissions, needs to be phased out as an energy source over the next ten years.

I am totally in favour of proactively encouraging all renewable energy options so that they can replace fossil fuel energy sources as quickly as possible. The Greens have been at the forefront on this issue for more than 2 decades.

The South-East is seeing a big community push for significant renewable energy investment and opportunities. It is also a region partly dependent on employment opportunities in logging, and struggling with increasing power costs. How do you stand on those issues, or plan to reconcile them?

Native forest logging and associated wood chipping is not profitable and needs to be phased out with the native forests retained as a carbon sink for the sake of the environment. The timber and associated employment would need to be transitioned to expanding the profitable plantation timber industry.

Renewable energy investment is also an opportunity for new employment opportunities.

The South-East and Far South Coast would have to be among the most enticing places to live (no bias of course!) but it also one of the most unaffordable according to recent data. What are your plans and party policies surrounding housing affordability - for buyers and renters?

The Greens have a strong set of policies to put people's needs first when it comes to housing. We propose to build 500,000 sustainable public and community homes over the next decade, through creating a Federal Housing Trust. We would also implement a national standard for renter's rights. Action would also be taken to assist people to buy their first home. We believe that no-one should ever be in a situation where they are homeless in this country.

David Sheldon, independent

David Sheldon, independent

David Sheldon, independent

Name David Sheldon

Political Party Independent

Age 64

Family married 5 children 11 grandchildren

Where do you live? Tumut

What do you do for a living? Operate a pet friendly farm stay, 5 cottages sleeping 30

How long have you lived in the Eden-Monaro electorate? What is the best part of living in the Eden-Monaro electorate? 16 years minus boundary changes. Eden Monaro is regional Australia at its best.

What is your political experience? Chair of the Australian Regional Tourism Network 6 years, Chair Tourism Snowy Mountains 2 years Chair Forum of regional tourism Organisation 12 months, I initiated the research into the importance of Local Government to the Visitor Economy.

The crippling effects of the drought continue to be felt by the electorate's farmers. What kinds of measures would you fight to install to drought-proof the region? Is the creation of more dams part of the solution, and if so, where should they be located?

Better management of the water that is available, We can all talk about water flows to the ocean and how to alter but what effect will this have. We can't keep robbing Peter to pay Paul we have to look to sustainable solutions.

Do you support the proposal to relocate immigrants to regional centres as a means of relieving pressure on metropolitan infrastructure and increasing the population of and diversity in country towns and cities? If so, what would be needed in the regions for this to occur?

Infrastructure(health, education, transportation enabling) employment, interpretations hubs, HOUSING. Firstly and most importantly we need to find jobs for the young, the over 40s and fix the growing underemployment numbers.

Do you agree with the idea of decentralising government departments to regional areas, and, if so, which departments would you like to see be relocated to the Eden-Monaro electorate?

Pick a straw, we need infrastructure, housing and health and Education services.

What's your vision for our region and how will you encourage more people to live here?

Infrastructure including NBN and mobile phone connectivity, Snowy Hydro as conduit, research, educations(training, interns, tertiary), renewable manufacturing(hubs throughout the electorate), light and fast rail, The Brindabella access link, future Industries eg Lithium batteries, Tourism (developing and understanding the Visitor Economy including future agri-tourism development. Proactive development of Education for the future(attached) The Eden Monaro looks beyond tomorrow 30 year plan.

The South-East is seeing a big community push for significant renewable energy investment and opportunities. It is also a region partly dependent on employment opportunities in logging, and struggling with increasing power costs. How do you stand on those issues, or plan to reconcile them?

Living in Tumut I struggle with this and I have to be blatantly honest here I believe just like the automobile industry, technology and uses evolve and change, robotics increase, yes the industry is important but if everyone is as serious about the effects of the building industry and timber industry the future is not rosy. As for renewable everyone has to play their part, however I do not believe it will improve power costs, we have heard it all before.

James Holgate, independent

James Holgate, independent

James Holgate, independent

Name: James Holgate. GenX.

Family: Spouse and 3 adult daughters

Where do you live? Queanbeyan

Political Party: Independent

What do you do for a living? Recruitment Consultant

How long have you lived in the Eden-Monaro electorate? What is the best part of living in the Eden-Monaro electorate?

"Born and Bred" in Cooma. Lived in Queanbeyan for the last 8 years. Canberra and 3 - 4 year postings in Singapore, Micronesia, Myanmar and the Caribbean in between. Best part of Eden Monaro - how long have you got? The people and environment spanning the snow to the sea - the region has more than many whole countries, let alone single electorates have to offer. And we encompass the our Nation's fine Capital.

Why are you running for the seat of Eden-Monaro?

Let me count the ways! I have unique experience and perspective. I grew up in the (then) "most multicultural town in Australia" and have lived, worked and have friends from a wide range of cultures and backgrounds. We all have far more in common than we have differences; I have broad interests, from sport, music, science, humanities, politics and lifelong love of learning which I think translates well to the diverse interests of this electorate. My daughters are adults so the sacrifices on my family that are a reality of political life will be a bit easier to handle.

What is your political experience?

I studied politics and policy at University and have lived and worked in a wide range of political systems overseas. I have also navigated the politics of family, workplace, sporting, social and cultural contexts. I hope to increase Indigenous Australian's engagement and empowerment in our political discourse - a better appreciation of culture is needed. We have may challenges and much to learn and celebrate on this front.

The crippling effects of the drought continue to be felt by the electorate's farmers. What kinds of measures would you fight to install to drought-proof the region? Is the creation of more dams part of the solution, and if so, where should they be located?

Management strategies (to hazard buzz words). This is symptomatic of the much broader and very frightening reality of global warming. Any dam plan will require objective scientific scrutiny that is above politics. We will need to implement greater efficiency of water usage and recycling in agricultural, industrial and domestic settings.

Do you support the proposal to relocate immigrants to regional centres as a means of relieving pressure on metropolitan infrastructure and increasing the population of and diversity in country towns and cities? If so, what would be needed in the regions for this to occur?

Bunkum! Making people live somewhere they do not wish to is the wrong approach. Country living is fantastic, so relocation should be by choice. More broadly, we must have a sensible discussion about population. This is difficult when major political donors benefit from incessant population growth. I will not take political donations (only ideas) and look forward to making policy decisions that are pragmatic, objective and serve the long-term political and ecological interests of this beautiful continent.

Do you agree with the idea of decentralising government departments to regional areas, and, if so, which departments would you like to see be relocated to the Eden-Monaro electorate?

No - this is inefficient, wasteful and cynical pork barrelling par excellence. It has also resulted in the loss of high calibre professional expertise from affected government agencies.

What is your stance on the future of coal mining for the region? Do you support renewable energy? How do you believe Eden-Monaro is positioned to take advantage of these?

I'll spare readers the motherhood rhetoric. My vision is ecologically responsible population policy. We must have realistic energy policies which in the short term will, necessarily include the phased reduction of coal. We should cap coal exports and boost international investment and incentives to improving clean alternatives to make fossil fuels redundant ASAP.

The South-East is seeing a big community push for significant renewable energy investment and opportunities. It is also a region partly dependent on employment opportunities in logging, and struggling with increasing power costs. How do you stand on those issues, or plan to reconcile them?

See above and look to practical measures such as energy efficient buildings, more work from home options i.e. telecommuting to reduce transport consumption. Logging must be renewable - old growth forest logging is highly problematic. Habitat protection and expansion must be a high priority.

The South-East and Far South Coast would have to be among the most enticing places to live (no bias of course!) but it also one of the most unaffordable according to recent data. What are your plans and party policies surrounding housing affordability - for buyers and renters?

A sensible discussion of population growth that is free of political interference by political party donors would create options to reduce upward pressure on house prices. Creative approaches e.g. leveraging superannuation assets should be explored; homeless rates are too high - costs on improving the lives of our most vulnerable are a long term saving in terms of expensive health issues and it's simply the right thing to do. We need a LONG-TERM solutions beyond short-term political cycles and above party donors' commercial interests.

This story Eden-Monaro Votes: Meet Your Candidates first appeared on Bega District News.

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