After wresting the Eden-Monaro seat from four-term incumbent Gary Nairn in 2007 with a narrow 900 votes, federal member Mike Kelly strengthened his hold on the seat again in 2010.
Whether he’ll survive the 2013 election on the back of the carbon tax remains to be seen, but he’s hoping his performance so far will put him in good stead and has released a mid-term report card that outlines the federal government support his electorate has received since he’s held the seat.
There’s lots of good news in the four-page brochure that includes money put into a raft of key social areas such as health, education, local infrastructure, sport and tourism.
The Magnet asked Mr Kelly what all that meant for Eden and what he saw as the keys areas to ensure growth for the town.
“My whole strategy for this region is to have a diverse economy with Eden having a broadly diversified industrial and economic base,” he said.
“This is why we need to be exploring all the potential that we have in the Eden area and that includes the renewable energy opportunities and the tourism industry.
“With the commercial opportunities, you get the Bocco Rock development using the port facilities to get building materials in, then the timber companies exporting through the port and that means jobs, and then you get the oil and gas leases in Bass Strait with the service vehicles coming in.
“What I’m trying to do is lay a platform for a diverse economy that will provide good, well-paying jobs for our kids and keep a good demographic balance.”
Mr Kelly said much of it hinged on the Port of Eden project, which he said has stalled at state government level.
Talk to local state member Andrew Constance and he says Infrastructure NSW is waiting on the commonwealth, but that’s another story.
In the meantime, we’ll look at six key areas that Mr Kelly has made promises for and where he says they’re at.
1. Port of Eden
“I already have the interest of Simon Crean and Anthony Albanese, Infrastructure Australia is interested and I had the strategic meeting in Canberra (November 2010) so I’ve done as much as I possibly can to get it going.
“I believe I can get some kind of election commitment to the development port if I can attract some stakeholder interest from the state government and some show of interest from them.
2. Clean energy
“There is over a billion dollars in renewable energy projects in the region with the Bocco Rock wind farm and the Carnegie wave energy project among those. We’re expecting to see a test buoy off Eden next year.”
“One hundred per cent of our constituents in Eden Monaro will get NBN whether its fibre optic cable or state of the art wireless and satellite.
“Satellite and wireless will be fully operational no later than 2015 and fibre-optic will be in Queanbeyan next year and it will roll out from there like an ink spot.”
“We’ve got the Bega bypass and the new hospital at Bega, plus there’s a data centre, which is a huge data storage facility, proposed for the southern part of the shire.”
“At a local level we’ve got terrific projects such as the Bundian Way which has the potential to attract many thousands of people.
“There has also been a significant investment in tourism infrastructure around Eden which has helped to prop up the town. Examples of that would be the $82,000 boardwalk around Lake Curalo, and we put a lot of money into the Marine Discovery Centre.
“There are also proponents for a big tourism development in Eden with a proposal that would be worth $1.2billion.”
“We have got a homeless problem that’s of some concern to me which is why I’m proud of the fact we managed to get $41.7million to improving public housing.
“We put a lot of that money into renovating existing buildings in the Bega Valley to render them usable again.
“My priority is to skill people up to get them jobs and to reach out to these kids.”
Mr Kelly has delivered on many things for the region, including funding for local school and sports facility upgrades and investment in training.
However, his whole strategic plan for Eden and the region appears to rest on the Port of Eden, which has been talked about for many years with promises of at least a wharf extension being completed by now.
So the question is whether he’ll survive another election to see it come to pass.