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North West Central by-election: Local government leaders give their thoughts on campaign

Jamie ThannooThe West Australian
Carnarvon Shire President Eddie Smith says voters are disappointed not to see the Government offer a candidate.
Camera IconCarnarvon Shire President Eddie Smith says voters are disappointed not to see the Government offer a candidate. Credit: Trevor Collens/The West Australian

As election campaigns roll across the North West Central electorate, local governments have seen candidates explain their visions for the region, and candidates have listened to the concerns of community leaders.

It’s been an important opportunity for communities to highlight their issues, and throughout the region, common themes of housing shortages, lack of healthcare access, and crime have been discussed.

Many of these biggest issues are felt in towns large and small, such as Denham with a population of 849.

Access to healthcare and housing are major issues here, according to Shark Bay Shire president Cheryl Cowell.

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Liberal candidate Will Baston promised the town a permanent doctor, a tough task according to Ms Cowell.

“It’s something we’ve been pursuing as a shire for the last 25 years,” she said.

On housing, Ms Cowell said there was a serious need for more to help meet labour shortages and keep the town growing.

“There are heaps of people who would live here in a heart beat if they could,” she said.

The impact of cyclone Seroja is still felt widely in the region, and should be number one priority according to councillor Des Pike, a Kalbarri ward representative for the Shire of Northampton.

Many communities are still waiting on relief from the State Government and rebuilding has been delayed by labour shortages, and Cr Pike said he hopes NWC’s new representative can bring more attention to the issue

“There $104 million that’s supposed to be spent on relief in the Mid West, mainly in Kalbarri and Northampton, I don’t think you can look past that for priorities,” he said.

Eddie Smith, president of the Shire of Carnarvon, said he felt the major candidates had done a good job covering local issues, listing anti-social behaviour and upgrades to the blocked Carnarvon fascine as his top priorities.

But there was a sense from some that whoever won the election would not be able to have an impact from the very small Opposition bench in the Legislative Assembly, he said.

After many voters showed support for Labor at the 2021 election, there is disappointment that the McGowan Government is not contesting this election, said Cr Smith.

“I think there is a bit of apathy towards it,” he said.

“With a small Opposition in the State Parliament, and the government not having a candidate, it’s hard to imagine the community is very happy.

“They’re going to be up against it, whoever wins, to make an impact with so little influence.”

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