A 'new way' of politics

INDEPENDENT candidate for Mallee Cecilia Moar, who visited Kerang this week, has been travelling the vast electorate advocating "a new way of doing politics in the Mallee."

"I think it needs to be more fair and accountable and less politicised. I think that's really the thing," she said.

Cecilia Moar sizes up the vast Mallee electorate.

Cecilia Moar sizes up the vast Mallee electorate.

Ms Moar pointed to funding decisions affecting the Mallee that were driven by the political calendar and to a disparity in grants made to Mildura compared with smaller towns in the region.

"I think that the small towns across the Mallee, which really are the heart of the electorate, have been missing out," the candidate said.

"What I am finding in these towns … is that they are still there, they are really quite vital, but they're looking quite woebegone because they haven't had the support they need for their plans for their community."

"Everyone has a plan for their own town or community. They just need, I think, assistance from the Federal Government to get some outcomes."

The mother of six and former farmer, who has an impressive array of qualifications and experience, believes there is a "worldwide move" towards "a place-based community decision-making model."

"The old model is putting on pressure to get [funding]. Some get grants and others don't, but the small towns seem to just keep missing out. And they're lacking infrastructure.

"The new model is just much more of a fair and even distribution - a strategic approach and less politicisation in general."

Born in Birchip and raised in Watchem, Ms Moar, a foundation member of Australian Women in Agriculture and former Victorian ABC Woman of the Year, was a farmer for decades near Swan Hill, where she raised her family, and has also farmed and worked in other parts of Victoria and interstate.

"I've worked on all soil types across the Mallee," she said. "Wimmera, North Central, Goldfields, Mallee and Sunraysia ... I happen to have travelled across or put in a crop or driven a mob of sheep, or something like that, across most of those sections."

In addition to farming, the former health services and government worker has "another layer of experience", at a national level, as a Telstra board member, and on the board of the Mallee Catchment Management Authority.

"I understand, from many perspectives, how policy translates on the ground and … just how difficult it is to make sustained and substantial changes, which is what we need for the Mallee," she said.

On water policy, Ms Moar, who has promised to "connect with the sensible centre", offers no easy solutions.

"I think firstly we need to sort out the basics and get accountability and transparency. So we need to administer the system that we have already, better. I think we can do that. And then we need to have a conversation about what outcomes we want for our communities on the river, because there's huge pressure of forces that are coming to bear with the changes in water value, with the drought.

"Under these drought conditions and with water policy the way it's set, it's not going to be easy to change that around ... I don't think there's a short-term solution to this. It's a complex and longstanding and difficult issue, but I do think we could have more respectful conversations and involve the people who are being affected more in a process that makes them feel they're really being listened to."

Ms Moar ran unsuccessfully for The Nationals in the New South Wales Senate n 2018.

She has since said she felt she wasn't "being heard" within the party.

She returned to the Mallee after a decade in New South Wales and Canberra and settled in Horsham, from where she has run her own communications business.

Ms Moar has produced graphs to show what she describes as a stark imbalance in the way gants are distributed.

Ms Moar has produced graphs to show what she describes as a stark imbalance in the way gants are distributed.

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