Willagee candidates tackle local issues in Q and A

Willagee candidates tackle local issues in Q and A

WILLAGEE was one of the seats most impacted by the 2015 redistribution of WA electoral boundaries with the notional margin of sitting Labor MLA Peter Tinley slashed from double digits to 2.5 per cent.

The electorate essentially shifted to the south east, losing sections of Melville, Hamilton Hill, Hilton and Spearwood in exchange for parts of Kardinya, Murdoch, Bibra Lake and South Lake.

The new Willagee is ground zero for Roe 8 and the fate of the Perth Freight Link will be a hot button issue for voters.

A former SAS officer, Mr Tinley will again contest the seat for Labor while Melville’s deputy mayor Rebecca Aubrey continued her rapid political ascent to win pre-selection by the Liberal Party.

Like her father, Melville mayor Russell Aubrey, Ms Aubrey has long been a strident and vocal supporter of the Perth Freight Link and ensuring the project is completed is one of the key planks of her campaign.

At the other end of the spectrum, Save Beeliar Wetlands deputy-convenor Felicity McGeorge will continue her two-decade push to protect urban bushland as the Greens nominee.

Noticeably less affluent than its northern neighbours, suburbs within the Willagee electorate deal with a far higher volume of crime as well as higher unemployment levels.

THE CANDIDATES

Labor Party: Peter Tinley

Liberal Party: Rebecca Aubrey

Greens WA: Felicity McGeorge

What do you view as the major election issues for both the Willagee electorate and the State?

Tinley: As a former army officer and member of the SAS, I completely understand the need for a proper strategy to improve WA. Our world is rapidly changing and our economic future relies on having strong industries to compete internationally and provide jobs here in our local communities. Under Labor, young West Australians will be given first opportunity on all government projects and works. We want to make sure that West Australians are the first in line to get WA jobs.

Aubrey: As I have been speaking to locals throughout the electorate, the issues raised with me are jobs, road safety and law and order. Only the WA Liberals have a plan that addresses all of these in a realistic way with a team that has a proven track record on delivering.

McGeorge: We need a government that is financially responsible. Funds should be directed to projects and services that improve the lives of ordinary people in the long term. That means focussing on providing quality primary, secondary and tertiary education and robust health services including preventative strategies and moving towards a health-based approach to drug abuse. I’m holding a meet and greet to hear what the electorate is most concerned about at Bibra Lake Regional Playground from midday on Saturday, February 18

The number of crimes in Willagee suburbs dipped last year, but the actual volume is still high compared to other electorates. What needs to be done?

Tinley: While it is pleasing to see a modest drop in crime statistics, they are just that, statistics. Victims of crime are not interested in stats and more often than not these crimes are drug related. The Liberal Government has had more than eight years to get on top of the ice epidemic and has done nothing. We need proper penalties for dealers including life imprisonment if necessary and stiff boundaries for users including adequate resourcing of rehabilitation schemes.

Aubrey: The Liberal Government has implemented a tough on crime agenda including mandatory sentencing for people who assault police officers, commit certain offences during home burglaries or try and evade police during chases. It is important that we have more police on streets, not behind desks, to ensure efficient response times. The Liberals have committed to Australia’s toughest meth plan with mandatory minimum sentences for dealers, rehabilitation programs for users and support for their families.

McGeorge: Our suburbs can be made safer by encouraging people to meet their neighbours and participate in activities in their neighbourhood that bring them into public areas. Long-term reduction in crime will come through strengthening families and strengthening our communities. A focus on supporting families with young children may seem like a very long-term strategy but is the real solution to crime.

Roe 8 runs right through the heart of the Willagee electorate. What is your stance on the project and the entire Perth Freight Link (PFL)?

Tinley: The Perth Freight Link is an expensive road to nowhere. The Port currently handles about 700,000 containers and the Liberals’ PFL plan wants to double that which will mean more trucks on our roads. Dangerous loads such as chemicals and explosive materials will not be allowed in the tunnel, travelling on local roads instead. WA Labor has a proper freight and trade policy that will substantially increase the number of containers using rail, improve the Stirling Highway and High Street intersection and get on with the construction of a second port in the industrial hub of Kwinana.

Aubrey: It is clear the Perth Freight Link is essential for the safe and efficient carriage of freight and to remove traffic from local roads. If the PFL is not completed we will see Farrington Rd, South St and Leach Highway grid locked and these roads will require major upgrades, including increasing the number of lanes. The route of Roe 8 is aligned with the existing power lines where land is already cleared and the road will be partially built on bridges to allow animals to traverse from one side to the other with ease.

The proposed tunnel for Roe 9 will minimise the impact on local property owners while providing users the most direct passage to the port. It is important to note that the port is not nearing capacity and the need for an outer harbor is some decades away.

McGeorge: I have worked for the protection of our local bushland and wetlands for more than 20 years. My major focus, first as convenor and then co-convenor of Save Beeliar Wetlands, has been on promoting the alternatives to Roe 8 and working for the protection of North Lake Reserve. It is my firm belief that building Roe 8 and the Perth Freight Link will be a social and economic disaster. It was landed on the community in May 2014 with no planning or consultation. The way to make our roads safer and less congested is by putting more freight on rail and investing in public transport.

Perth’s unemployment rate is at its highest since 2002. According to latest ABS data, Willagee (10.4%) and Coolbellup (8.6%) are even worse than the 6.9 % WA average. How can the State Government help more of these people into jobs?

Tinley: Under Labor’s WA Jobs First policy, a McGowan Government will ensure West Australians are first in line for local jobs. The WA Skilled Migration Occupation List is produced by the State Government and currently consists of 168 occupations that can be filled from overseas; including engineers, electricians, bricklayers, nurses, mechanics and accountants.

Under a Labor Government, a refreshed list will be developed immediately in consultation with industry that targets the skilled jobs that genuinely require overseas workers. Major infrastructure projects like Metronet will create more local jobs, traineeships and apprenticeships.

Aubrey: The Government is continuing with its massive infrastructure program including the building of Roe 8 and 9 and creating thousands of jobs as a result. There has also been significant focus on the development of our tourism and defence industries as well as enabling innovation to thrive and develop new industries. Residents in the Willagee electorate include young families, people caring for others and those not capable of commuting to the city to work 40 hours a week. We need to create greater opportunities for small businesses to operate in local town centres and provide employment for local residents.

McGeorge: Firstly, we need to look after the people who are struggling to find work. Our local communities are well placed to support our own community members but need resources to do so. Families who are supported when in times of hardship are less likely to become a burden on our economy or society in the long term. Secondly, we need to move towards a new, post-mining boom economy and focus on tourism, technology and service industries. The Greens Energy 2030 plan found a move to 100 per cent renewable energy would create 150,000 jobs here in WA.