Brand MHR Madeleine King keeps Labor loss in check

Stuart HortonSound Telegraph
Federal Labor up and comer and Brand MHR Madeleine King.
Camera IconFederal Labor up and comer and Brand MHR Madeleine King. Credit: Picture: Ross Swanborough, Ross Swanborough. 191218

There are worse things in life than losing an election, and keeping that perspective will drive returned Brand MHR Madeleine King forward following Labor’s capitulation at the polls on May 18.

Ms King was officially declared the winner of the seat by the Australian Electoral Commission last Friday, and later that day she sat down with the Sound Telegraph to discuss the election, how the ALP moves forward, and what the future holds for her and the electorate.

“There was a bit of nervousness,” she admitted about suggestions in the popular press of a big Labor victory.

“While we all followed and got caught up in the hype of the media, there were a few indicators that it wasn’t an overwhelming tidal wave coming our way.

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“Chatting to people on pre-poll, I didn’t get that feeling I got when I worked as a poll booth captain in 2007, which was a big victory.

“We would have loved to go into Government because we had good things we could have done. We can still do good things, we’ve just got to bide our time and put in policies that get more support.

“(Losing) is not the worst thing that’s happened in my life. That weight of expectation was high, but I’ve had sadder days.

“Like most of the country, I got up on the Sunday morning and got on with my life ... people had more pressing things on their mind like putting food on the table or getting to work, or worrying about how they’ll pay bills or care for a sick parent.

“When you get some perspective, it makes you feel a bit better.

“It was disheartening, but by the same token, this is our democracy — we had a vote and Labor didn’t win.” Ms King said she was more upset her pre-election commitments, from the $2 million for the Baldivis Districts Sporting Complex to a $5000 pledge for the Frank Konecny Community Centre toy library, would not be honoured.

“Two elections have gone past and the Liberals have committed not a cent to this electorate,” she said.

“It wasn’t a lot of money (committed in Brand) but it would’ve gone to a lot of small projects that would have benefited groups greatly, and I just wish they’d match it.

“I’ll chase it up with the Prime Minister. (The commitments are) not little to those groups, but it’s little in the scheme of a trillion- dollar budget that the Australian Government has.”

Moving forward must be done “positively and quickly” Ms King said, which started with Anthony Albanese replacing Bill Shorten — a move she believed would benefit WA.

“When I worked with Gary Gray, Anthony was here all the time with some great infrastructure projects that changed the State,” she said.

“The entrance to the airport ... the freight links around Kewdale ... sinking the railway to connect Northbridge back to Perth ... it’s massively boring infrastructure, but he backed those projects.

“His legacy in WA is large ... He’ll make a really good leader.”

Ms King has been promoted to the shadow cabinet to take on the trade portfolio, a role she relishes given her background in international relations, including establishing the Perth USAsia Centre and work at the University of WA.

She said it was important to have a West Australian in the role given the State’s standing as the nation’s largest exporter.

Unemployment is also front-of-mind for Ms King, who pointed to it as the biggest issue facing the people of Brand.

“The economic headwinds are strong against us at the moment and everyone’s known this for a while,” she said.

“There’s not much growth in the economy and that’ll play out here with job opportunities being lowered.

“This electorate was one of the ones worst affected by cuts to penalty rates. We have a lot of people working in retail and hospitality and pharmacy here, so people lost a lot of money in those cuts.

“The best way (to tackle the issue) is to speak about it in Parliament and hold the Government to account.

“They spruik the idea they’ve created a million jobs, but where are they and what type are they?

“Are they full-time? No.

“They’re not in Kwinana. I’ve yelled that across the chamber a few times — literally yelled out ‘Where? They’re not in Calista or Parmelia or Kwinana!’

“Long-term unemployed has always been a challenge and that’s not going to change ... the jobs simply aren’t there and there’s sometimes a prejudice against the worker.

“People do want to work because they inherently know it’s better for them.

“I’ll work away at my portfolio as well as work with the electorate. We can do more than one thing at once.”

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