JOBS TARGET: Greens candidate Dawn Walker wants to see future jobs from renewable energy in the Tweed.
JOBS TARGET: Greens candidate Dawn Walker wants to see future jobs from renewable energy in the Tweed.

Fingal seachange dawn of political awakening

DAWN Walker’s move to Fingal Head some 10 years ago was more than just a seachange.

The former Victorian Government advisor and mother of three was so blown away by the welcoming embrace of the Tweed Coast community, she soon became involved in local politics.

At first she joined Fingal Head Community Association, where she joined in the fight for the preservation of the pristine coastal village, particularly its bird and marine life.

There she helped stare down a move by 4x4 enthusiasts keen on carving up the dunal areas of Letitia Spit for their weekend frivolities, and spearheaded one of the largest campaigns ever experienced by AirServices Australia in protesting against increasing flights across the Fingal peninsula.

Later, she joined the Greens and the rest, as they say, is history.

Ms Walker is now sitting on the precipice of wresting the seat of Richmond off Labor’s Justine Elliot, who has held on to the area since 2004.

Traditionally a conservative area and once prized possession of the National Party, recent Ray Morgan Research polling suggests the Greens are in with a real chance of winning the seat come July 2.

This is despite a recent redistribution which saw Richmond lose the left-leaning area of Nimbin and take in parts of Ballina.

The driving force for Ms Walker, whose three children are now in their late teens and early 20s, is securing jobs for young people in the future.

Growing up in a small business environment in Melbourne, Ms Walker worked as an advisor in the Victorian Government’s department of infrastructure and regional development, before moving to Fingal and setting up her own consultancy.

“I am very passionate about small business and the role they play in a healthy, vibrant community such as ours,” she said.

“We’ve got our Renew Australia policy, a clear policy that outlines how we transition from jobs of the old economy such as mining, into a modern, 21st century, clean energy economy – that is where the jobs will come and I want to see that happen sooner rather than later.”

GRAVITAS: Greens founder Bob Brown on the hustings trail with Dawn Walker in the seat of Richmond. Pre-polling indicates just 1.5% of votes separates the Greens from Labor.
GRAVITAS: Greens founder Bob Brown on the hustings trail with Dawn Walker in the seat of Richmond. Pre-polling indicates just 1.5% of votes separates the Greens from Labor. Hamish Broome

Ms Walker sees this election as a turning point for Australia’s future.

“I see this as a real threshold point of moving from an old economy, transitioning into a new, clean economy,” she said.

“The old parties’ policies are holding us back and there is no doubt about that.

“We are being left behind; our children will get left behind, and I am just not going to stand by and see that happening if I can help it.”

This is the second tilt at the seat for Ms Walker, who secured 17.69% of the primary vote in Richmond in 2013. And while betting odds remain in Labor’s favour, with Mrs Elliot remaining firm favourite followed by the Nationals’ Matthew Fraser, polling indicates there may be just 1500 votes between Labor and the Greens.

“We are getting a very warm reception,” Ms Walker said.

“With the two older parties, people are feeling it is just politics as usual and are feeling quite jaded with that; they are looking for someone who will listen to them.”

The party has run a strong campaign in Richmond, with several visits by party leader Richard Di Natale as well as a visit last week by party founder Bob Brown.

If elected, Ms Walker said one of her first acts would be to ban the extraction of Coal Seam Gas, which remains a concern in the area. She also lists climate change, hospitals and schools as top priorities.

  • This is the fourth profile in our candidate series. Read about our remaining candidates on Wednesday.

FINGAL PASSION: Greens candidate Dawn Walker loves living on the Tweed Coast.
FINGAL PASSION: Greens candidate Dawn Walker loves living on the Tweed Coast. SCOTT POWICK


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