Nationals WA pick first female Aboriginal lower house candidate23rd November 2020
“I chose the Nationals because I thought they were aligned with the people and the regions; that’s exactly what the issues are we’re facing up here and the Nationals want to address it through Royalties for Regions.”
“I just joined recently, because I was very interested in their policies, I thought, ‘I need to get involved with this mob’.”
Mrs Hills, who is the chairwoman of the Yuri Yungi Aboriginal Medical Service in Halls Creek, will be hoping to have an influence in getting more Aboriginal people to vote for the Nationals in a seat held by Labor or an independent for the past 40 years.
Forty-one per cent of the Kimberley population identifies as Indigenous, with the vote from the central part of the region heavily favouring Labor.
First preferences were split evenly, however, between the Nationals, Greens, Labor and Liberal parties at the 2013 election, when retiring MP Josie Farrer was first elected with communities split over the issue of building a gas plant at James Price Point near Broome.
Another environmental issue is shaping as a major issue in the next state election for the West and Central Kimberley, with a divide over how to deal with water management with the Fitzroy River.
Negotiations are ongoing between the state government, traditional owners and agricultural bodies over water use.
Pastoral interests, including a station owned by mining billionaire Gina Rinehart, want to be able to utilise water when the river floods for irrigation and create local jobs, while environmentalists are opposed.
Mrs Hills said she thought there was a lot of wasted water when the river overflowed.
“I think we can save a lot of water just running out to the ocean if we could work together; the Indigenous traditional owners and the pastoralists and the government, I believe we can have some resources coming out the Fitzroy to benefit everybody,” she said.
Premier Mark McGowan has pledged to create a new national park with the Fitzroy River but discussions on water allocations has been drawn out.
Mrs Hills said the other issues impacting this election in the Kimberley would be housing, crime and alcohol access.
Labor is running Yawuru and Nimanburr woman Divina D’Anna from Broome as the replacement candidate for Ms Farrer, the Liberals have pre-selected Shire of Derby-West Kimberley president Geoff Haerewa and the Greens are yet to select a candidate.
The Nationals are still looking to finalise their ticket with candidates in Murray-Wellington, Dawesville, Mandurah, Vasse and Bunbury.
The party previously ran Yorta Yorta Yolngu man and West Coast Eagles star David Wirrpanda as a senate candidate in 2013.
Peter de Kruijff is a journalist with WAtoday.