Pennie Scott has held many roles throughout her life. A mother of five sons, a farmer, an academic, the founding editor of a Wagga newspaper and much more.
However years of disenchantment with the Federal Government, particularly with her local member Michael McCormack, has set Ms Scott’s sights on something new; she wants to be the next Member for Riverina.
An Independent candidate living in the north of the electorate near Cowra, Ms Scott knows victory will not be easy but believes she’s obliged to try to “balance the injustices” in government.
“I’d say basically since the Howard days, we’ve become entrenched in political behaviours which are not serving the Australian people well at all,” Ms Scott said.
“The shift has changed from serving business and serving corporate and it’s the people of Australia who are just simply the pawns these days.
“People are telling me we need change and we need that common sense back in our political areas. And often it’s us country people who are very resourceful, very practical and good at self-sufficiency, who actually have the lived experiences to apply that into a wider sense and to actually question decisions that are made.”
Ms Scott believes that the current Coalition Government have failed to be transparent, particularly around their relationships with corporate entities. She used this as an example of one factor influencing the “demise of our rural towns”.
“To see the demise of the countryside in the name of advanced innovative agriculture is absolute nonsense. We do need to grow food and we can grow beautiful food, but not in this corporate style,” she said.
“I see so many farmers now saying, ‘The Nationals do not represent us. They are a mining company, not The Nationals party’.”
As for local issues she’d like to see addressed, Ms Scott mentioned remaining black spots on the Riverina’s roads, the inland rail corridor which she described as a “Nationals party gravy train” and a review of the Murray Darling Basin Plan. She added that more needs to be done to combat the fastest-growing population of homeless people, women aged over 55; an issue she believes is especially pertinent in Wagga.
Ms Scott said Independent Dr Joe McGirr’s election as Member for Wagga Wagga is a source of great optimism for her. She argues that people are “fed up with being taken for granted” by the Liberal and Nationals parties.
“After the Liberal Party had held the state seat for 60 years, I think this is a really important shift in attitude and Joe McGirr is a wonderful member to be Independent,” Ms Scott said.
“People say that Wagga will never change, but that’s not true anymore and Joe is living proof of that.”
Her attempted step into politics was inspired by frustration at current member Michael McCormack’s lack of accessibility to the community. Mr McCormack won the 2019 Federal election, achieving nearly 60 per cent of the first preference votes.
While she acknowledged a victory would require a remarkable turnaround from voters, Ms Scott believes that the “mood is changing” after an interesting three-year period.
“There is a viable alternative and in the last election in 2019, there were only four candidates. This time there are seven and for the first time in a very long time, there is a woman candidate,” she said.
After the Federal Budget’s release on Wednesday (30 March), an announcement from the Morrison Government on the election date is imminent. The election is due on or before 21 May.