House of Reps

Bron Marsh

Farming campaigner runs as someone to talk to

May 24, 2016Patrick Gillett
Bron Marsh is a first time candidate for The Greens. Photo supplied

Candidate Snapshot

Party: GRN
Electorate: Wide Bay
First Stood in this Electorate: 2016

“There's no one in there to speak to.”

That is the reasoning for Bron Marsh to run for the seat of Wide Bay.

“Larrisa Waters has been great,” she says. “Glenn Lazarus has been great. But there's not enough of them in there. That's the problem. We need more people in there to represent what the people want.”

The Greens candidate is talking about coal mining and coal seam gas exploration. Her local community around Wolvi and Goomboorian, about 20 minutes north east of Gympie, is covered by a range of exploration permits.

“We've been pretty active here about the coal exploration that's going on, but there is nowhere to take it,” she says. “Not local government, not state government, not federal government.”

The retiring federal member for Wide Bay is Warren Truss.

The Wide Bay electorate has three major centres – Noosa in the south through Gympie to Maryborough in the north. Outside of these areas are a broad range of towns and communities. The economies of many of these areas are agriculturally based. The coastal communities of Noosa, Tin Can Bay and Rainbow Beach are based on tourism.

According to the Marsh, there were about 12 dairy farms around her area. She says that number is now down to one.

“If the government wanted to subsidise an industry that'd be it,” she says.

As many Greens candidates and volunteers have attested to, a two month campaign is a long time. This is particularly true for an electorate the size of Wide Bay.

"I've engaged with this local area but I've got to get out to the wider areas,” she says. “I've done so many kilometres already. It's just going to be a lot of hard work. This area's not a very Green area.”

This doesn't seem to concern Marsh. During her time in the army she had several moves. Originally based in Portsea – on the tip of Victoria's Mornington Peninsula – she moved to Ingleburn in New South Wales as a medic. Her final move before being discharged was to Brisbane.

While in Brisbane she qualified as a laboratory technician. It is from this role in the army she moved into nursing and paramedic work. She retired from these roles to raise a family.

In 2014 she started campaigning with Lock the Gate against the resources sector in an effort to protect the local community's interests. This campaigning brought her in contact with her local branch of the Greens who endorsed her as their candidate for Wide Bay in February.

“I was involved in the local government elections in Noosa, pretty heavily involved in those,” she says of her experience. “I've mostly been involved with the council elections handing out [and] door knocking. I've also done of lot of letter boxing in Noosa.”

Despite not having any form of campaign experience prior to Lock the Gate, people still recognise her on the streets. She's even surprised when people in Noosa recognised her while campaigning.

“I was really pleased how people know me down there,” she says. “I didn't expect to be known. But when I was handing out one of the women said "oh I know your name. I've seen some of your stuff in the paper". It's not a place I go to all that often, Noosa.”

At the 2013 election the Greens were on the receiving end of a 4.5% swing against them. This may have been due to the rise of the Palmer United Party. Before that, the party has contested every election in the area steadily increasing its vote since 2001 until 2013.

With three candidates for the seat announced to this point, including the LNP’s Llew O’Brien and Labor’s Lucy Stanton, the second preferences from the candidate polling third may welldecide who the next local member is.

This hasn't stop Marsh from trying.

“A lot of shoe leather [is] being worn out because you've got to engage with the community,” she says. “The local area here know me through the Lock the Gate and my anti coal and gas stuff. I spent a bit of time in Maryborough. I've gone up to Maryborough and participated in … coal and gas and Greens meetings up there. I spent a day at Murgon and Cherbourg and, um, gosh, where else did we go? All of the towns in between here and there. It's just time and effort.”

Results from the 2013 election suggest voters around Noosa are more likely to vote for the Greens candidate. Time will only tell where voters in the northern and western parts of Wide Bay place their votes.

Marsh says the only party, other than the LNP and ALP, that is organised enough to represent the electorate is the Greens. She highlighted the groups surrounding Lazarus and Jackie Lambie as parties she might support but aren't organised enough.

“The ALP don't represent my family well enough,” she says. “I think the Greens are the best party to allow people to represent their issues in parliament.”

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