VICTORIAN Labor has chosen Kate Marten of Pakenham to contest the seat of Narracan in November’s state election.
Above: Kate Marten in Bunyip yesterday. Photo by article author.
Ms Marten, who manages Western Victoria’s gas metre data and assets for Ausnet Services, was confirmed as the candidate last Thursday.
Ms Marten told the Warragul & Baw Baw Citizen she would campaign on mental health, health and youth services policies.
“I’ve got a vested interest in mental health and youth services,” Ms Marten said.
“My husband’s a returned serviceman, so I’ve done a bit of work with mental health there, and my 16 year old had a friend commit suicide last year.
“I started trying to find what’s available for the kids to cope and [campaigning to] stop the pattern of suicide in the area.”
If elected Ms Marten would seek to improve services in the electorate, which after a redistribution now extends as far west as Nar Nar Goon .
“I’d like to see what services are currently available in the area and help boost them,” she said.
“There’s a lot of ex-military in the Moe area especially… but I think it’s more that without decent health services you can’t have decent mental health services.
“Making sure the hospitals are getting adequate funding to cope, and education, is important. There’s a lot of funding available but it’s not being taken up.”
Other youth issues are also a concern for Ms Marten.
“My interest is mental health, but there’s definitely more we can do for our youth to engage them in the community, because at the moment I think they’re getting a bit lost and there’s not enough services perhaps to keep them busy,” she said.
“We need to get them more involved in sports and arts and other activities; not every kid plays footy, so there has to be other options.
Ms Marten said improving public transport in the area was also important and Labor’s plan to introduce a 2am bus service from Melbourne on weekends would help people in Narracan.
“Labor is looking at more bus services from the city, and I was also hearing that there was maybe not enough [other] bus services in the local areas as well,” she said.
“Not that we can guarantee funding on that (the other local bus services), but we can definitely try to get that at the forefront for people to start looking at and reviewing.”
Asked what she thought were issues important to Narracan voters, Ms Marten said healthcare, jobs and transport.
“I think there needs to be more funding into the hospital. I can’t guarantee it, but I can make sure it’s top of the agenda,” Ms Marten said.
“Even though I don’t live in the electorate, [Warragul is] my public hospital from Pakenham, so if I had a baby that’s where I would go.
“Jobs everywhere is a major issue and a crisis.”
An important issue to many farmers is that of coal seam gas extraction. Ms Marten said she would probably not support using fracking – one method of unconventional gas extraction – to tap that gas.
“My husband is a miner, but not in coal seam gas, so do I like it? The fracking? Probably not, no,” Ms Marten said.
“It’s off the table at the moment for Victoria though.”
Ms Marten said she was confident about her chances of winning the seat with a united Victorian Labor party, despite the area turning against Labor in last year’s federal election.
“With the Labor party last year there was such disillusionment, so I think we need to have some strong people stand up and be united. I think you need to be united,” Ms Marten said.
“I’m hopeful for winning the seat. There’s been so many cuts to health and education, especially in the area with GippsTAFE, and if we can project that we want the area to grow then we might have a better position.
“I think people get a bit blinded by politics and look at federal and state together, so people aren’t really happy with [federal Liberal treasurer Joe] Hockey and [Liberal Prime Minister Tony] Abbott at the moment, so that may lead them to not be happy with the state government.”
Despite living outside the electorate, Ms Marten said she had a strong connection to Narracan.
“My family all live in Bunyip and we live in Pakenham, which is under 10km from the border of Narracan,” she said.
“My health services come from this area. When we looked to build there wasn’t land available, that’s why we ended up in Pakenham.
“Whether you live in Pakenham or Warragul you still have to have better options for higher education, TAFE, health, so I think given the border is my town and the next town, I don’t see it being a big difference.
“My son plays cricket for Bunyip, I help Mum and Dad who own the [Top] Pub, I spend a lot of time down here, it’s just my postcode that’s different.
“Would I move to the area [if I won]? Probably, if the opportunities were there.
Ms Marten said she was a new member of the Labor party but had always voted Labor.
“I’ve always found my values align to the Labor party,” she said.
Labor’s campaign in Narracan will focus on community events.
“I’m going to get out and meet people at local events and sport events,” Ms Marten said.
“My family is really sporty so for me to engage with sports events is great.
“I’ve cleared with work some time off, so I’ll make sure I have got time to get out and find out what the people are interested in, what concerns them the most.
“I will hit the ground running once we get a grand plan, but yeah, I think it can be won. I think people want change for their community.
Ms Marten will face Liberal incumbent Gary Blackwood, Greens candidate Malcolm McKelvie and Country Alliance candidate Dave Snelling at the election, with potentially more candidates nominating before the election.
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