Aboriginal land rights take back seat

31 Oct, 2001 10:00 PM

ABORIGINAL land rights have taken a backseat in the Kalgoorlie electorate as fears of national security have mounted.

In light of the recent Tampa crisis, anthrax scares, and US attacks, voters have turned attention away from the traditionally contentious issue, and are looking to politicians for assurances on safety.

"This is the topic most commonly raised as I move around the electorate," Kalgoorlie standing member Liberal party candidate Barry Hasse said.

He said the people of the Australia's largest electorate had similar fears to the rest of the nation, and wanted ongoing commitment from government to hold back illegal immigrants and protect borders.

More locally however, a clear message has surfaced that the 2.1pc margin currently held by the Liberal government could easily shift according to the parties' approach to health and education.

Most major party candidates agreed greater spending was needed to revive these basic services, and a greater effort was needed to improve poor year 12 retention rates, typical of remote areas.

Adding employment to the list, National Party candidate Peter McCumstie said he believed these would be the major platforms over which the election was won or lost in the Kalgoorlie electorate.

In addition, Labor candidate Paul Browning said voters were once again voicing concerns over higher costs of fuel, utilities, groceries, and transport as the election drew closer, and his party's GST rollback plans would significantly alleviate extra cost burdens imposed on rural and remote communities.

Both Mr McCumstie and Mr Hasse said they would be pushing for taxation zone rebates for remote regions, while Mr Hasse said securing equitable outcomes between metropolitan and country Australians was a major priority in his political campaign, as was encouraging tourism.

He said he would be "telling people to holiday in WA" to reduce the impact that limited air services had on the rural economy, since the crash of Ansett.

Meanwhile Labor have promised farmers a better deal by removing administrative obstacles and widening boundaries on Exceptional Circumstances legislation.

Mr Browning said Labor were also "rock solid" on maintaining single desk grain marketing and would be supporting moves to develop multi-peril crop insurance.

Mr McCumstie said the Kalgoorlie electorate was desperately in need of more flexible leadership in order to manage the varying agendas of it people.

He said the first step was to make people aware of the changes necessary to benefit the wider community, instead of leaving people behind in the political process, enforcing changes without their knowledge.


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