By Brooke Haffenden
MEMBER for Macedon Mary-Anne Thomas this week looked back on her time in Government and her commitments to the Macedon Ranges electorate over the past three years.
“It’s gone incredibly quickly but in the three years that I’ve been a member in parliament representing Macedon, I’ve got to say, every day is an extraordinary privilege,” Ms Thomas said.
With investments across education, roads, health and public transport, Ms Thomas said that she was proud of the work the Government has done but admits there is still a lot more to do.
“We are seeing real benefits flowing to our communities here in Macedon. With me as representative, I believe we are delivering for the communities here in the Macedon Ranges, and I want to keep doing that.
“There’s much more to do but we’ve hit the ground running.
Over the past three year’s Ms Thomas and the state government has made some large announcements including, $10.9 million for the new Kyneton Primary School, $20 million for the Melbourne-Lancefield Road, $900,000 on Lancefield Park, $400,000 on street scaping in Romsey, as well as over $500,000 for the Romsey Primary School and $2.8 billion state-wide on V/Line.
Talking to Ms Thomas she will tell you her two biggest achievements lie in local investment in education and family violence.
“More than $43 million across my electorate has been invested into school’s infrastructure. I am very, very proud of that,” Ms Thomas said.
“That means that kids in country Victoria are getting access to state-of-the-art teaching and learning facilities and we’ve got that flow on effect of the jobs being created.
“The work I’ve done on family violence, raising awareness and supporting my community in that regard has also been a significant achievement.”
While the government will spend $1.91billion on reducing family violence, Ms Thomas went a step further to raise awareness locally with the ‘Say No to Family Violence’ campaign.
More than 40 groups and businesses across the Macedon Ranges were involved with the campaign, putting up handmade signs in their shop fronts.
“It sends a strong message in to women in country towns that they are not alone, people are out there and understand, and we want to be able to support you. It gives victims of family violence confidence to speak up,” Ms Thomas explained.
“I want to make sure that girls and women in my community know that they are important, that I am a person they can speak to, that I will support them and that their community supports them too by making the banners and putting them on display.
“When I was campaigning to be elected I met a young woman, who with her two boys, had left her husband to live in another town. And I thought this is so unfair, that her life has to be totally uprooted, her and her boys, and she has to do all the back and forth to try and give them stability in their own home. That has stayed with me.”
It is this woman’s story, along with many others who motivate Ms Thomas day after day in her role.
Ms Thomas also spoke of a little girl from Romsey called Miley and her mum Alison who met she met when she was door knocking during the elections. Miley was in kindergarten and at the time when funding to four-year-old kinder looked like it was about to be cut, so Ms Thomas joined with Alison and other local parents to sign petitions and the funding was restored.
“But the thing about Miley and her mum Alison is that I’ve kept in touch with them. Miley’s down at Romsey Primary now, and that’s what motivates me every day – making sure a young girl like Miley will have the very best chances in her life to access high quality education where she lives,” she said.
“My job is to be on the ground listening to the people that I represent, and be alert to the issues that are of concern to them. In order to be the best MP I can be, I’ve got to be listening to people I represent all the time.”
Passionate about women in sports, mental health, transport, infrastructure and jobs, Ms Thomas explained that the Government was investing money into local economies and giving young people pathways into good jobs.
Since January 1, 2016, 10 per cent of all the works carried out on major projects has been undertaken by apprentices, trainees or engineering cadets as part of the skills guarantee.
As a Member of Parliament, and Cabinet Secretary, Ms Thomas said she’s well positioned to represent the needs and interests of her communities.
“I’m happy to stand on my record of what I’ve been able to achieve in three short years and it will be four years by the time the people are voting again. I have a list of commitments that I made to the people of this community and I know that I will be able to stand there in 2018 and say I’ve delivered them,” Ms Thomas continued.
“What’s more, I’ll have another list of commitments that I’ll be making until 2022, and I’ll continue to work at the pace I have set to look out for the people of this community, who are always my number one priority.”