Anita Rank says she wants to raise the profile of western Victoria and its strong economic drivers it provides the rest of the state.
The Glenelg Shire Council mayor is in the running for Nationals party pre-selection for the upper house.
In 2015 she ran for Liberal party pre-selection in the lower house, but was defeated.
“There are opportunities to get a better deal for rural and regional Victorians,” she said.
“The region is a very valuable economic provider to the state across a range of areas including agriculture. We need someone to be the voice of western Victoria in regards to rural issues. I think raising those issues at a state level has always been a passion of mine and that’s why I believe I’m a good fit to represent the National party.”
She said decentralisation, which also benefited rural and not just regional areas, needed to be explored.
“It’s very valuable to have government departments to relocate to Geelong and Ballarat, if department or offices can relocate to rural areas they will have much more impact,” she said.
“Country living needs to be offered as an attractive option. We need to encourage people to relocate. They will only relocate if they have a job.”
She said another issue was digital connectivity in rural areas.
“People on the land can go for days without having any internet,” she said.
“If you are running running a farming business to sell stock or trade, it becomes impossible. People have told me stories where they have to go into the closest town to download data. This is not a third world country. It’s extremely frustrating for people.”
Ms Rank said raising the profile and value of volunteers was also important to her.
“Volunteers are similar to small business owners. They are the lifeblood of the community,” she said.
She said there was a real desire for rural issues to be elevated to the state and federal governments.
“A third of the people living in rural areas contribute 60 per cent of the gross domestic product,” she said.
“We also represent 90 per cent of exports. We are the lifeblood of the country, but we don’t get represented.
“I have lived in western Victoria all my life. I will be a good advocate for this region.
She said she was also very passionate about health and education.
“We have very good local primary and secondary schools,” she said.
“We need to support our regional universities. They are providing relevant courses so therefore they should be an option for students rather than looking at Melbourne universities.”
”The National party is an opportunity for me to pursue my ambitions,” she said.