Region ready for change: MP

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
New Warren-Blackwood MLA Jane Kelsbie.
Camera IconNew Warren-Blackwood MLA Jane Kelsbie.

In her first interview, new Labor MLA Jane Kelsbie said she wanted to represent everyone in Warren-Blackwood, regardless of their political affiliation.

Ms Kelsbie rolled veteran Nationals MP Terry Redman in a shock result at the March State poll, and while she had now set up in Mr Redman’s old Denmark office, the MP said shifting demographics meant it was not just Premier Mark McGowan’s popularity that pushed her to the narrow Legislative Assembly win.

“The demographics for the region are changing,” she said.

“There are pockets of Labor supporters coming in. They are not all farmers.

“There was a sense (before the March election) that people were interested in change.”

Ms Kelsbie told the Times she was working on a plan to travel extensively across the diverse electorate, using other members’ offices as well as the network of Community Resource Centres.

“With remote offices, it means I don’t actually have to be in Denmark,” she said.

While contact through the Denmark office was recommended, Ms Kelsbie, pictured, also planned to be accessible via her rebadged Facebook page and other media.

She acknowledged Mr Redman had done a “tremendous job” during his long stint, and while some rural voters might feel that disconnect, Labor’s rise in regional WA also offered benefits.

“It’s about fighting for our region and the spend on our region,” she said.

And while she repeated campaign lines that “the Labor Government has spent more money in the regions than governments that have gone before,” the new MP was quiet when reminded of her predecessor’s long-running cry that Labor had carved up the Nationals’ signature Royalties for Regions scheme and used that money also to fund essential services — initially kept separate from the grants pool which led to an investment bonanza across Warren-Blackwood for almost a decade while Mr McGowan was in Opposition.

Although Ms Kelsbie’s first parliamentary speech ended with a cryptic pledge that she does “not rock the boat until the boat needs rocking”, she was quick to make clear this was not a reference to her position within Labor.

Asked how local voters could expect her to fight for the electorate while part of a massive caucus in an often Perth-focused Government, Ms Kelsbie said senior members had already expressed interest in local issues, and she welcomed the chance to show ministers around the electorate and highlight key issues and projects. “It’s about making sure the investment we need, we get,” Ms Kelsbie said.

“I really don’t think most people, the constituents, care where it (the funding) comes from. My job is to be the voice of the community and to take that message up (to Perth).”

Hence local feedback was more important than ever, Ms Kelsbie said. “It is 100 per cent about getting out there and talking to con-stituents,” she said.

“I get asked all the time, What is my plat-form?

“My platform is listening to the community.”

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