Bushfire rebuild, climate 'critical' issues for Liberal candidate Fiona Kotvojs

Prime minister Scott Morrison named Fiona Kotvojs as the Liberal Party candidate for the Eden-Monaro byelection on Sunday. Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong
Prime minister Scott Morrison named Fiona Kotvojs as the Liberal Party candidate for the Eden-Monaro byelection on Sunday. Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong

Fiona Kotvojs is expecting a tough challenge trying to take Eden-Monaro from Labor, but says she is "really pleased and honoured" to be given the opportunity.

Dr Kotvojs won the Liberal Party pre-selection vote at the weekend by an overwhelming margin over Queanbeyan-Palerang councillor Mark Schweikert.

On Sunday morning, she was joined by Prime Minister Scott Morrison in Murrumbateman to confirm the result, the PM saying she was the right candidate "to lead the way back" in Eden-Monaro.

Dr Kotvojs lives and works the family farm at Dignams Creek, has worked as a teacher and businesswoman, is a long-serving volunteer of Cobargo Rural Fire Service and a board member of Oxfam Australia.

She said she still volunteers at local primary schools and with her local church, as well as serves on the Anglican Church Property Trust, which encapsulates much of the same region bordered by the Eden-Monaro federal electorate boundary.

"This community shaped who I am, with so many people in the community involved in that process," Dr Kotvojs told the Bega District News on Monday morning.

"I have a long history of involvement across the entire electorate and I feel very honoured to have an opportunity to work for this community."

Dr Kotvojs will be up against former Bega Valley mayor Kristy McBain, who was endorsed as Labor's candidate on the retirement from politics of sitting MP Mike Kelly.

It will mean, barring a surprise result from an independent or minor party, Eden-Monaro will have its first female representative.

"To benefit this electorate you need the best person to work on behalf of the whole electorate, from the coast to Tumbarumba," Dr Kotvojs said.

"I believe it's positive to have more women in parliament, but it always has to be someone selected on merit.

"For me what is really positive is that we had a democratic process where our members got to choose who they wanted to represent them."

Dr Kotvojs agreed that the key issues of bushfire recovery and climate change would prove central to a by-election campaign in the South-East.

Dr Fiona Kotvojs, Senator Jim Molan, and Prime Minister Scott Morrison in Murrumbateman. Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong

Dr Fiona Kotvojs, Senator Jim Molan, and Prime Minister Scott Morrison in Murrumbateman. Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong

"I've spoken to people who lost property in Braidwood, in Tooma, in Kiah - my own farm in Dignams Creek was affected - I know what it's like. And it's not just those people burnt out. Many were evacuated three or four times. Everyone has been affected.

"The rebuild is critical and that's why I feel me standing now is so important.

"Yes we would all love it to be happening faster, and that needs all three levels of government working together."

On climate change, Dr Kotvojs confirmed she believes the climate is changing and that humans are contributing to that change.

"We need to reduce emissions, we need to build resilience in communities and we need to work towards adaptive approaches," she said.

"We need to look at fuel load issues - there's a whole range of ways to manage fuels.

"More hazard reductions are required, but yes that needs more funding. I'd also like to see more funding for Indigenous cool burning and traditional practices to be integrated in increasing amounts.

"There's also an element of community support though. As a member of the Cobargo RFS I've been out on hazard reduction burns where a lot people will complain about the smoke and not enthused about the burns happening in winter.

"But which is the worse alternative?"

While a date for the Eden-Monaro byelection is yet to be called, a number of people have made public their intentions to stand.

Labor has preselected Bega Valley councillor Kristy McBain and has already been active on the campaign trail in recent days.

Liberal Democrat Dean McCrae, coordinator of the party's southern districts branch, has also entered the fray, as has independent Andrew Thaler, a solar farm developer from Nimmitabel.

Bredbo businesswoman Karen Porter is also running as an independent under the banner of newly formed group The New Liberals.

The Christian Democratic Party has endorsed Cobargo's Narelle Storey as their representative, and deputy leader of the Science Party Dr James Jansson has also made his intention to stand public.

This story Bushfire rebuild, climate 'critical' issues for Liberal candidate Fiona Kotvojs first appeared on Bega District News.

Comments