WITH the election just around the corner, The Adviser caught up with the candidates and asked them a list of questions to find out why the community should elect them.
Independent Member for Shepparton District, Suzanna Sheed
What do you think you could bring to the region if re-elected?
For the past four years, I have been your independent voice in the Victorian parliament. I have worked hard to build strong relationships with all levels of government and our region is now reaping the benefits. Never before have we enjoyed so much attention from the major parties. As an independent, I can’t make election promises or funding commitments, but I can deliver results. Since taking a stand and electing an independent in 2014, our community has successfully secured more than $660M for critical health, education, rail and road infrastructure. These projects are all underway, but there’s more to achieve and if re-elected, I will continue to advocate for the investment we deserve.
What are your main points that you would focus on if re-elected?
It’s incredible to see how far our community has come in such a short amount of time; the redevelopment of our hospital has started, work is underway to deliver better educational opportunities and outcomes for our young people, and $356M of upgrades to the Shepparton train line to deliver faster, reliable and more frequent services have begun. Each of these projects are the building blocks of a strong and vibrant community and need to be funded to completion, but now they are underway we have the opportunity to do even more. As a community we have many and diverse needs. Among them, is the need for a mother-baby unit to better support our families when they are vulnerable. We need delivery of the second stage of our hospital and an integrated cancer centre to offer treatment services close to home. We need a fully funded Shepparton Bypass, a redeveloped sports stadium and first-class regional education precinct.
What do you think are the main issues facing the area right now?
Irrigated agriculture is at the heart of the Shepparton district community. Our economy is fuelled by our horticulture, dairy, food-processing and freight industries and we must protect our ability to produce the high-quality, clean, green food that is so highly sought-after around the world.
At this time when we are experiencing an extended dry period and fearful of another drought the challenges faced by our farmers reverberate across the wider community.
During the past four years I have been standing up for our farmers to prevent the further loss of water from irrigation and to try and ensure that no further socio-economic loss results from the Federal Government’s determination to rollout the Murray Darling Basin Plan ‘in full and on time.’ The GMID Water Leadership group, which I co-chair, continues to advocate strongly to all levels of government in relation to the major water issues that affect our region.
While some traditional country representatives have been virtually silent on these issues, we’ve been making headway, so let’s keep the momentum going.
What is your future vision for the region?
My vision for the future of Shepparton district is a healthier, smarter and better-connected community with a sustainable and growing economy that continues to build on our irrigated agricultural roots and has the capacity to diversify to take advantage of new industries, technology and opportunity. I’ve always said that this region has the people, the climate and the passion to truly thrive, we simply lacked the investment and faith of government. In just four years we have experienced an exponential leap. We’re now seeing real investment and real change in our community not only from government but from private enterprise as well. I’m confident that if we continue on this path there is so much more we can achieve.
What is your main point of difference compared to other candidates?
As an independent, I don’t have to follow the party line. I don’t have to put the needs of a party, or government, above the needs of our community. Some will say that you need to be part of a major party to get a seat at the table and deliver, but my track record has proven that isn’t true.
Both sides of politics have been in government in the past decade and yet our local representatives were simply not able to leverage anything like the investment we have managed to achieve.
In four short years we have successfully advocated for the funding we needed to take a transformational leap forward and we are now firmly on the political map. I strongly believe that I will be able to work with whichever major party forms government and that staying proudly independent is our best chance at keeping the momentum going.