The State electorate of Bega has a new member, Dr Michael Holland, who stood for the ALP in a seat that has always returned a conservative member. The Triangle sent the following questions to Dr Holland to introduce our readers to their new representative.
- What made you decide to stand at the recent by-election for the state seat of Bega and why the ALP?
I have cared for a generation of women and their families since moving to the Bega electorate 19 years ago.
I have seen the inequality of health services experienced by rural communities. It became increasingly evident that as a single medical practitioner I could not achieve further improvement in health services. It was also evident that our community also needs action on the social determinants of health including secure housing, good education, full employment and an environment protected for future generations. Therefore, I believe that politically the platforms and policies of NSW Labor align with my beliefs and will achieve these goals.
- How has your personal life and professional history shaped your values?
Personally, that’s a long story. I grew up exposed to alcohol abuse and domestic violence. My parents divorced when I was twelve which was a big thing in the late 60s and early 70s and there was a time of housing insecurity. I was fortunate to have family support and a good education. I am forever grateful for my tertiary education that was free in the Whitlam era. I have personal and family experience with mental health problems and I witness the perinatal mental health problems of our families on the South Coast. Women’s health has been my profession for nearly forty years. So, professionally and personally, lived experience has motivated me to work towards improvements in our society.
- How will you engage with and represent your constituents, including those who didn’t vote for you?
I will work for the best outcomes for the whole Bega electorate. Only a small percentage makes a difference in electoral outcomes but when you speak to people in the street, they want the same things regardless of their politics. I’m a person who is not by nature adversarial, but I stubbornly hold my ground on issues. I accept that it can be a long game until we achieve a result. As a local rural MP, I will be transparent, responsive and look at consensus in solving local problems.
- What do you see as the three most important issues for the Bega electorate?
Health, housing and recovery from our natural disasters are the highest priorities. They are linked by the need for housing for those who have lost homes, for health workers and workers in small business. Once you have housing you can get a job, get an education and look after your health.
- Is there anything else you’d like to say?
‘Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.’ Leo Tolstoy. Our communities have common problems and individual problems. They will have common solutions and individual solutions. The Triangle is a special area in the Bega electorate and I hope to represent the area well. I have already met many capable and resourceful people who know some of the solutions.