It’s three times the size of Tasmania and combines the suburbs with the bush. What do Namatjira voters want?
From pastoralists and remote community residents to town campers and suburbanites — voters in the redrawn seat of Namatjira come from vastly different corners of the red centre.
A redistribution has shifted parts of suburban Alice Springs into the seat, which stretches around the town and south east to the edge of the border.
It lost an area in the north to the seat of Barkly, and a vast area between the Stuart Highway and Western Australia to Gwoja.
ABC election analyst Antony Green calls them “radical boundary changes” and says it has created a hybrid seat of urban and bush voters.
And the change has tipped the balance of votes.
In what was a safe Labor seat, the Country Liberals now have a narrow margin of 2 per cent.
Ahead of the election on August 22, the ABC asked four voters from across the seat what matters to them.
Steve Cadzo runs around 6,000 cattle on Mt Riddock Station, about 20km north-east of Alice Springs.
He wants NT representatives to lobby federal politicians to get the roads near his property upgraded.
Mr Cadzo says travelling along the unsealed parts of the Plenty Highway can be a huge strain on his business, especially when the road is in bad condition.
“If the Plenty is bad, we turn our trucks around and go up to Tennant Creek and Mt Isa, and that adds an extra 700km [to our journey],” he said.
“We get rid of our vehicles at 100,000km, because they’re no good after that, they’ve been rattled to pieces.
“It’s like seeing $50 notes flutter off the top deck [of your truck]. It’s cruel.”
Mr Cadzo said as well as making freight and logistics easier, bituminising this road could also make it easier for tourists to visit the Harts Range section of the NT from Queensland.
The remote community resident
Raymond Webb is a resident of the small community of Atitjere, nestled at the base of the Harts Ranges and home to 460 people.
“The big issue for me is housing, and roads,” he said.
The community leader believed too much housing stock was being built in Alice Springs, and that people living in the seat’s eight remote communities were being left out when it came to infrastructure.
“We don’t get much housing from the Government. We don’t get houses to the community. Most of it [is built] in the cities in Alice Springs,” Mr Webb said.
“People have been on waiting lists for five to six years.”
He wants politicians to come out to communities more regularly, to see what life is like there.
“I want them to come, talk to us, and see what we need. We feel left out,” Mr Webb said.
The suburban resident
Solicitor Ruth Morley lives in Larapinta, one of the Alice Springs suburbs recently shifted into the seat of Namatjira.
Ms Morley says she is looking for “really strong regional leadership” to help drive the recovery from the coronavirus crisis.
“We need people who are going to be persuasive at a state and territory and federal level, to ensure we have the resources we need in our economies to weather coronavirus and the drought.”
Ms Morley said she was looking for a candidate with experience and a plan to help key sectors like tourism recover quickly.
“Now is not the time for amateur hour, for people who want to give politics a go. We need moderate leadership, people who can keep a steady hand on the reigns.”
The town camper
Town camper, social worker and Australian of the Year nominee Shirleen Campbell lives in one of the many town camps in the electorate of Namatjira.
She hopes candidates in Namatjira take serious action on preventing domestic and family violence, which she says has increased in the time of coronavirus.
“We need more education and training around this, and more funding for Aboriginal organisations so they can work from the ground up,” Ms Campbell said.
“It’s like building a house, you’ve got to build a foundation, we’ve got to work together to make this a long-term priority for all people.”
Ms Campbell also said reforms were needed to the power card system used in Alice Springs town camps, a system which required residents pre-pay for their power.
“Having power cards should be targeted for people having trouble with budgets, not everyone in town camps,” she said.
The social worker was concerned about the many different groups represented in Namatjira.