Late run for Island votes

THERE has been a flurry of Federal election activity on King Island in the past week after a slow start to campaigning. With just under 10 days to go until polling day the major parties and Braddon candidates have made a last minute run for votes on the island. Independent candidate for Braddon Craig Garland visited King Island last weekend meeting and talking to residents.

Labor claimed its ‘Help to Buy’ housing scheme would particularly benefit regional areas such as King Island. The Liberals confirmed King Island Council would receive $686,000 in joint funding towards a just-over $1 million upgrade of its existing recyclables drop-off network to overcome high freight costs and reduce contamination.

Mr Garland held meet and greet events in the King Island Hotel and walked Main Street inviting King Islanders to stop, have a chat, ask him questions and tell him their story. He told King Island Radio he never envisaged standing for politics but entered out of frustration. The independent candidate was born and bred in Wynyard Tasmania and his working life has been across fishing, small business, farming and forestry.

“I have three kids aged six to eight and I’ve spent the better part of my life trading around the bush in the North West and walking the shores and fishing the ocean,” Mr Garland said. “And I just absolutely love this place that I live in, and I’m gobsmacked what’s been going on in recent years, and that’s why I’ve become political,” he said.

Most King Islanders know Mr Garland from his public stance on fish farms, particularly those proposed off the island’s east coast. “I’m not anti-salmon farms. I just want it done right, and up to this point; they’re not being regulated. They haven’t earned the right to come into this area with their adaptive management,” he said. Mr Garland said the balance of power had never been more important and independents on the cross bench had a role to ensure “the right things are done in the right places.”

“You’ve got to have the independence to be able to swing where the best information informs you and not stick to some policy that’s outdated and at odds with you and what you believe,” he said. Labor candidate Chris Lynch said the ALP’s housing package, which would cut the cost of buying a home by up to 40 per cent for 10,000 Australians per year, would especially help those in regional communities.

“This is an exciting Labor initiative and has been designed to help home buyers in regional communities like King Island,” Mr Lynch said. “This housing crisis cannot be fixed overnight. “We have worked to develop policies that will have a meaningful impact for communities like King Island and not just benefit home buyers in the big cities.”

Under the “Help to Buy” scheme eligible homebuyers will need a minimum deposit of two per cent, with an equity contribution from the Federal Government of up to a maximum of 40 per cent of the purchase price of a new home and up to a maximum of 30 per cent for an existing home. Help to Buy will be available to those with a taxable income of up to $90,000 for individuals and up to $120,000 for couples.

Labor Senator Anne Urquhart said Labor also hoped to be able to provide more social housing on the island through its $10 billion Housing Future Fund building 30,000 social and affordable homes around the country.

In Currie, Snodgrass Park, with its one- and two-bedroom units, provides vital and affordable community housing. “Snodgrass Park, plays such an important role and, for many older King Islanders, means they can downsize their home but stay in the community they know and love. “However, it has an extremely long waiting list,” Senator Urquhart said.

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