Farmers in Barker worry about buyouts by foreigners and the cost of water. Photo courtesy member for Barker Tony Pasin
Previously served as City of Mount Gambier Councillor from 2003 to 2010.
The Barker electorate is a Liberal stronghold, held by conservative parties since inception in 1903. Located in south-east of rural South Australia, it includes the Barossa, Murraylands, Riverlands, and Mallee. Industries are farming, tourism, forestry and wine production, reflecting conservative values that have made it a safe Liberal seat.
Foreign ownership of agricultural land and major infrastructure developments are widely regarded as major issues in South Australia’s Barker electorate.
Barker is a rural electorate in the south-east of South Australia encompassing the Mallee, the Riverland, the Murrayland, and most of the Barossa Valley. It has been represented by members of the Liberal Party since 1956 and is a safe Liberal seat, with two-thirds of the vote after a 3.5 per cent swing to the Liberals at the last election.
Tony Pasin, the sitting member, was elected in the 2013 election, after challenging Patrick Secker for nomination for pre-selection in 2012.
Born in Barker and raised on a local family farm, Mr Pasin says he aims to represent local farmers, residents, and businesses. A graduate in Law and Economics from Flinders University, he briefly worked in Adelaide before returning to his family and community in Barker. He operated a legal practice and was a councillor for Mount Gambier City Council before his election as the member for Barker. Mr Pasin has been criticised for opposing gay marriage.
Transport and tourism also are vital issues in Barker, especially in Mount Gambier, the largest city in Barker with a population of 26,092. Mt Gambier’s primary industries are mining, agriculture and forestry, but it is also a major road transport centre. Tourism is another key industry, with the town’s Blue Lake, Valley Wildlife Park and surrounding caves and other natural attractions bringing in $100 million a year for the local economy.
Murray Bridge is the second most populous city in Barker, 75km south-east of Adelaide with a population of nearly 21,000, it is the centre of a major agricultural district, supplemented by manufacturing, forestry, fishing and construction.
Issues important to Murray Bridge residents include urban renewal and infrastructure development to make the city a more attractive place to live and work. There is also support for a waterfront strategy to enable improved access to the Murray River, and bringing the city closer to the river.
The possible introduction of stamp duty costs on multi-peril crop insurance is a major concern for grain farmers in the electorate, while concerns about foreign ownership of agricultural land, infrastructure developments and increased costs to farmers remain major issues throughout the electorate. However, none of these concerns are likely to influence support for a conservative candidate, like Tony Pasin, and he is expected to safely hold Barker at the election.