Tracy Hill, who has an extensive history in small business and local politics, has been chosen by SA Best as its MacKillop candidate for the upcoming state election.
“I’m not a career politician – I’m a community member who’s put their hand up and said, ‘I want to have good outcomes for South Australia, and MacKillop’,” Ms Hill said.
“I’m hoping with the SA Best team we can do that.”
Ms Hill has always lived in South Australia, having been born in Murray Bridge and lived briefly in Monarto before moving to Meningie in 1975.
Her parents moved away but Ms Hill stayed in Meningie after acquiring a job at the local Bank SA branch.
When her position was made redundant after the bank downgraded its branch network, Ms Hill turned lemons into lemonade by throwing herself into her fishing and processing business.
She and her husband Glen still run their business to this day, Coorong Wild Seafood.
Mr Hill is a commercial fisherman, and Ms Hill handles the administration.
Since then Ms Hill has divided her time between employment in the Coorong Council and other administrative roles, and holding positions on industry boards.
She assisted the Coorong council when it was first amalgamated, and later worked as a project officer for the council’s Good Food on the Road program.
Ms Hill has also worked in administration at Jallarah Homes, an aged care facility, and even returned to Bank SA when the customer service manager took some time off.
“They took me back, so I must have been okay,” she laughed.
But coming from a small town like Meningie, Ms Hill is completely serious when it comes to politicians representing regional areas.
“It’s very frustrating,” she says of smaller towns being neglected by state media and policy.
“Currently (MacKillop) is a safe Liberal seat and it doesn’t get much attention from Labor, and I think sometimes it can get taken for granted.
“If you’re a safe seat then they (the Liberals) don’t have to try as hard.
“And you sort of feel like – up Meningie way – we get politicians coming through, and occasionally they’ll latch onto a local issue, but I don’t feel that rural electorates get the lion’s share of attention that perhaps the city electorates do.
“So it’s good to have an alternative in your electorate, and I’m hoping that’s what I can offer the electorate.”
She is on the Southern Fisherman’s Association executive committee, Coorong Fishery Management Committee, and the Wild Catch Fisheries South Australia board.
She is also part of the Lifeblood Alliance, which runs a program called the River Fellowship.
People from all walks of life – scientists, farmers, irrigators – lobby the state and federal government on behalf of the Murray Darling.
But Ms Hill is more than just a one-issue candidate.
“While my background is in that kind of thing, I am a rural person, and I know coming from a farming background that there are difficulties in land management and revegation acts, as well as other issues.”
Ms Hill and SA Best are also committed to policies related to health, roads, and infrastructure.
Ms Hill will be frequently touring the MacKillop electorate in the lead up to the election, and whenever she gets a spare moment she likes to spend it with her family.
She has one grandchild and another one on the way.
Since becoming the SA Best candidate Ms Hill’s life has been a blur of “meetings and phone calls”, and hitting the road.
But she’s proud as punch to be working with SA Best and Nick Xenophon, who she describes as “a very focused and driven person,” who “means what he says, and has the best interests of SA at heart.”
SA Best may be the underdog, but according to Ms Hill, that’s precisely why they’re a refreshing change.
“It’s a start-up party,” she said.
“We haven’t got the financial war chest of the Liberal party or the union backing of the Labor party.
“I’ve met most of the (SA Best) candidates now, they’re all community people.
“Some are more experienced than others, but it’s all grassroots.
“This is real people power, as far as I’m concerned.
“We’re not going to be involved in slanging matches or dirty politics, it’s going to be an issue-driven campaign.”
Other candidates for MacKillop
Three other candidates for MacKillop have so far been announced.
Nick McBride will attempt to succeed the retiring Mitch Williams as the Liberal member.
Mr McBride, of Conmurra, is a grazier who served as president of the Grassland Society of Southern Australia until late last year.
Upon his selection as the Liberal candidate, he flagged his intention to push regional growth and development, cap NRM levies, oppose fracking and secure more funding for roads and infrastructure.
Furner farmer and rock lobster fishing business owner Richard Bateman will run for the Australian Conservatives on a platform of farmers’ rights and anti-fracking.
He has also promised to advocate for better roads and jetties, fewer mobile black spots and improved education.
Independent candidate John Ey, of Penola, is also strongly anti-fracking and opposes all oil and gas exploration.
His other priorities include water security, renewable energy and roads.
Labor has not yet named a candidate.