Labor candidate for O'Connor
AFTER serving regional WA for 13 years in State government, Jon Ford is keen to focus on building the essential infrastructure in health and education for O'Connor and keeping Medicare free.
If elected on July 2, Mr Ford would look "for projects that are novel, using existing and new industries and assets, so our region can grow and our children have diverse job opportunities near their homes if they want to stay in the region."
Mr Ford said telecommunications was a big issue for the electorate, was not a luxury and was an essential service for both home and business.
"It's crazy that in 2016, we lose phone signals between towns on our roads," he said.
"My example is between Denmark and Albany, I lose reception for 20 minutes of a 35-minute trip.
"The same can be said for affordable fast internet; every business and home should have access, it's not a luxury it's essential and if elected I'll be banging on doors to get O'Connor priority for essential services."
Living in Denmark he experiences regional issues first hand.
"Our communities struggle to get easy access to education, especially at a tertiary level," he said.
"We don't have access to fast affordable internet, and on top of the $100,000 degrees the coalition think we can afford, the cost of travel and residential study won't be a cost our kids can shoulder.
"I'd like to see access to more educators and courses in regional centres and more money put aside to support people in our region who want to pursue study, especially Indigenous people.
"The biggest difference for regional Australia at this election, is what is at stake for our schools - Labor's needs-based funding will make sure that students in regional and rural areas get the same opportunities as their city peers."
Mr Ford said Labor would invest $1.8 billion more than the Liberals in country schools in 2018 and 2019; including $40 million in O'Connor.
"There is clear evidence that students in country schools are up to two years behind," he said.
"Only Labor will invest in local classrooms to meet the needs of every student and improve results."
Mr Ford said Medicare was very important to families and especially important as the ageing population is moving to retire in O'Connor's coastal towns.
"Our communities can't risk what we receive through Medicare," he said.
"We already pay more for almost all services than the metro centres, so having more fees attached to visit the doctor or chemist will place unnecessary burden on our locals.
"This isn't a time to be making cuts to health, Labor will reverse the government's GP tax by stealth and price increase on medicines, saving families around $400 a year."
Mr Ford said Labor was committed to reducing unnecessary red tape for business, including agribusiness.
"That's why Labor has announced policies, such as our plan to allow small businesses to incorporate more easily," he said.
"Labor always aims to strike a balance between the commercial and private interests of farmers and the need to protect the public good when it comes to things like land clearing, fire management and the use of our shared resources.
"I've always supported transparent and accountable live exports and will continue to do so.
"Our primary industries need to be redefined as a major industry in its own right, just like mining and energy.
"That way we can quote overall industry value to our economy when one part of the industry is attacked or seen by some as insignificant small or medium businesses."
After moving to WA in 1981, Mr Ford said he intended to retire in regional WA sometime down the track.
"Regional WA is like nowhere else and the seat of O'Connor is as diverse in nearly every attribute."
"We have really come a long way from when I first arrived and we have a long and exciting future ahead - provided we can all continue to work together with strong enabling community leaders - that's what I'm passionate about.
"I want to see our collective minds look for opportunities right out of our comfort zone - progress has been too slow and in many cases just fluff.
"I see value added industries in manufacturing electronics, heavy manufacturing, and tourism as major opportunities for us."