Eden-Monaro Liberal candidate Fiona Kotvojs says job creation is the central plank of her campaign - and Narooma's business people nailed down some notes on Friday, May 29.
After bushfires and COVID-19, Dr Kotvojs said her focus was to "rebuild the area" in a way: "that young people have the option of staying, and for other people who want to come back or move into the area, they will be able to find employment and stay."
Dr Kotvojs praised the Bega Innovation Hub, a federal government initiative which supports small businesses and entrepreneurs.
"I would like to see more of that support, because it helps people take their business idea and make it succeed. It helps diversify the sorts of businesses we have throughout the area so its not just dependent on tourism."
To see businesses succeed, Dr Kotvojs said infrastructure and telecommunications must improve.
"Our mobile phone reception [is] terrible," Dr Kotvojs said.
"Without reliable communications, it makes it very difficult for small businesses to operate.
She said "things won't happen overnight", and wants to work towards a "long-term plan".
"If we don't put those bases in now, we wont have it for the long term," she said.
Dr Kotvojs was pushing for safer roads. She said the government needs to look at fixing "pinch points" such as the Narooma Bridge.
She said the Narooma bridge limits b-doubles coming into the area.
"No one really wants b-doubles coming through the middle of the town, but ultimately we want to be able to get freight into and out of the area at a reasonable price," she said.
"They have been working from the north down. What we need to do is not work from the north down, but look at some of those pinch points further down, and focus on those.
"We need to take a long-term perspective. Do you fix Narooma Bridge now? Or do you look at where the road should go in the long term? That's a decision the state government needs to make and work with the community to identify where it needs to go and what needs to happen."
Dr Kotvojs said she had spoken with fellow beef farmers about difficulty accessing the state government's bushfire recovery money.
"I have spoken with various state and ministers' offices to look at what needs to happen, to go forwards and get a better understanding.
"I will keep advocating on behalf of the local farmers for a broader approach than what has been taken," she said.
She wants to help farmers adopt a secondary source of income. Tried and tested with her partner, she said growing truffles on their beef farm was a success.
"Our farms are quite small, so adding a small amount to it could be something to make the farms more viable," Dr Kotvojs said.
"We have proven it is true, and we are looking at how we can assist and support other farmers to adopt those sorts of things."
Dr Kotvojs said it was going to be "really tough" to win the seat of Eden-Monaro as it had been 100 years since the government had taken a seat from the opposition in a by-election.
"It's important for the people of Narooma, the people of this area, for my community to have some body to represent them and take their needs and work for them in government and deliver on those needs, for me that's critical and that's what I intend to do."
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