‘The system is broken’: New Nationals MLA Merome Beard calls on State Government to do more for regional WA

Jamie ThannooGeraldton Guardian
Nationals MP for North West Central Merome Beard.
Camera IconNationals MP for North West Central Merome Beard. Credit: Andrew Ritchie/The West Australian

From health issues to crime waves plaguing towns in Mid West and Gascoyne, WA’s newest MP Merome Beard says the “system is broken” for regional communities.

The newly elected North West Central MP was sworn in at Parliament last week, and in her maiden speech Ms Beard discussed her own upbringing, before delivering a call for change and reform in regional WA.

The Carnarvon pub owner’s speech followed a similar theme she expressed during her campaign — that people in the regions feel ignored, forgotten and misunderstood by Perth.

The new Nationals MLA described a situation in which regional towns were being overwhelmed by issues, and needed more attention from the government to help address them.

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“Most people in the bush do not expect freeways and underground railways, but given the immense wealth that is generated in the regions and the $6 billion surplus, they do expect their fair share,” Ms Beard said.

On health, Ms Beard said attention was urgently needed in the regions, stating a number of services are overstretched and struggling to attract to workers and resources.

“When women across the regions are prevented from safely delivering their babies near family and friends and must travel to Geraldton or Perth instead, at enormous expense and stress to families, the system is broken,” she said.

Crime, particularly in towns such as Carnarvon, Meekatharra and Mt Magnet, was another issue raised, and Ms Beard called for more support services, such mental health care and transitional housing, to be provided.

“We live in the middle of town, I see and experience this regularly,” she told the chamber.

“The front door of our pub has been smashed twice in the last three weeks.”

“We need to take up the solutions that communities believe will improve their situation, take risks and find new ways to change how we do things.”

When speaking with the Geraldton Guardian, Ms Beard did not state any specific policies she wanted to see implemented to address crime in her electorate, but said a more grassroots, community-based approach needed to be taken.

Ms Beard replaced retiring Nationals MLA Vince Catania after comfortably winning the North West Central by-election on September 17.

Coming in after a by-election, Ms Beard will have only 2½ years until she faces another election, and that could be for a different electorate if electoral boundaries are redistributed, as it seems they possibly may, and North West Central no longer exists.

While it is a unique circumstance, Ms Beard told the Guardian it was not a major concern for her now as she focused on representing the voters who elected her.

“I’ll be representing my electorate, no matter who they,” she said.

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