Federal election 2019: Health, schools, accountability biggest issues for Barker voters

  • Click on the slide show above to hear each of the candidates for Barker outline their vision for the nation.

Health, education and accountability are the issues sticking in the minds of Barker's voters ahead of Saturday's federal election, according to a survey by The Murray Valley Standard.

Respondents to the online survey ranked health as the most important issue, followed by "government accountability and transparency" and "schools and higher education".

The Standard asked the seven candidates for Barker about each issue.

United Australia's Bert Bacher did not respond to the specific questions, while the Centre Alliance's Kelly Gladigau did within her broader vision for the region.


The other five candidates each had different ideas about how to improve health care in the Murraylands and Mallee.

Liberal MP Tony Pasin pointed to his government's moves to fund a local drug action team and rehabilitation services in Murray Bridge.

Labor's Mat O'Brien said hospitals needed protection from funding cuts, the Greens' Rosa Hillam said a national rural health strategy and minimum standards for access to health services would help, and Animal Justice candidate Karen Eckermann wanted more preventative health care.

Nationals candidate Miles Hannemann, a former SA Ambulance volunteer, wanted secure tenure for rural doctors and nurses and quick response teams able to deal with emergencies.

"I also believe that government need to empower local communities to develop regional health plans that best suit them," he said.


Mr Pasin and Mr O'Brien both said their parties would increase funding to schools, as did Ms Hillam, though their plans placed different levels of emphasis on public education.

Ms Hillam said the Greens would make childcare free for many families.

The Liberal MP noted that a study hub being established in Murray Bridge would help; Mr Hannemann favoured that model, so long as specialised teachers and high-speed internet were available.

Ms Eckermann said she would welcome more tertiary education.

"I am also intent on improving public transport availability and lowering costs, to allow students to travel to the larger universities in Adelaide and remain living at home," she said.


Labor, the Liberals and Greens were all in favour of a federal anti-corruption commission, an idea Ms Hillam said the Greens had thought of first.

Mr Hannemann, too, believed in greater openness and accountability in government, who were servants of the public.

However, Mr Pasin said the model pursued by the next federal government would be important.

"I do not believe in establishing a body for the pursuit of political, commercial or bureaucratic agendas in the public space, as many ICACs have become," he said.


Economically speaking, the government's job was to get out of the way and let private enterprise do the work, Mr Hannemann said.

Mr Pasin agreed that keeping the economy strong would create jobs; 1.3 million had been created since 2013.

Mr O'Brien said a Labor government would take a more active hand in the economy, guaranteeing a living wage for all workers and extending government contracts to local business, especially those that employed apprentices.

"Everything is going up but our wages - people are having to work two or three casual jobs to make ends meet," he said.

"It's time that workers and their families were made a priority."

Both Ms Hillam and Ms Eckermann suggested diversifying food production, with a shift from live exports to chilled meats - the Greens - or from animal to plant production - Animal Justice.

River Murray

Each of the minor party candidates supported a national Royal Commission into water use in the Murray-Darling Basin, though Mr Hannemann hoped common sense and consensus would prevail before it was needed.

Mr O'Brien wanted the task of compliance in the basin to be handled by a new federal Environment Protection Agency.

Mr Pasin said the Liberals were still committed to delivering the basin plan in full and on time, to help with its social and economic impacts, and to better transparency.

On climate change, Labor proposed reducing pollution by 45 per cent, and generating 50pc of energy from renewable sources, by 2030.

Ms Hillam said the Greens would go further.

"Our planet is in crisis," she said.

"We must ban drilling in the Great Australian Bight, stop Adani and work towards 100pc renewables by 2030."

Note: This story has been updated to reflect the fact that Ms Gladigau responded to each specific question within her broader vision for Barker.