A fourth generation farmer with 40 years’ experience in small business will contest the seat of Schubert for the SA Best party in next month’s state election.
Paul Brown is a well-known face in tourism and agricultural circles – experience he believes makes him a good fit for Schubert.
For the past 16 years, the 62-year-old has worked in tourism as operator of the internationally-recognised Kangaroo Island Wilderness Tours. He also sits on the SA Tourism Industry Council.
Eighteen months ago, he and wife Mandy moved to Adelaide and, if elected at the March 17 election, they have committed to buying a property within the seat of Schubert.
“For us, Adelaide has been a transition from Kangaroo Island, and where else would you want to live but the Barossa?!”
One of Mr Brown’s key issues heading into the election is to battle ‘complacency’ – from both the government and opposition.
“(Schubert) has been such a strongly held Liberal seat and under those circumstances, quite often they get left behind,” he said.
“I’m hearing people talk about the deterioration of local hospitals and some of the services (which are) being taken away from them.
“I’m also hearing issues about land use and some of the conflicts arising there.”
Mr Brown said there needed to be an overall plan which took into account cereal growers, livestock producers, wineries, vineyards and grapegrowers, and “people need to be talking to each other”.
“The people I’ve been talking to say that’s not happening at the moment,” he said.
“There are also issues of signage because of the Northern Connector, where some access points into the Barossa are not clear.”
According to Mr Brown, SA Best’s “clear central agenda” will provide constituents with the opportunity of a third party which could genuinely affect change.
“The overall picture … it’s about governments becoming complacent, and an opposition that’s been in opposition for 16 years, losing their direction and not being seen as an alternate government,” he said.
“A lot of polling is showing that we’re (SA Best) going to be able to be part of government or have a significant influence in that, so we will have the opportunity to make some change.
“It’s about making Schubert matter.”
Mr Brown said acting as a local member, there were three tiers.
“It’s about finding out the issues that affect every individual in the electorate – even if they’re really small, finding out from the individuals what the issues are,” he said.
“It’s about the issues of the electorate as a whole, making all of those public and making noise about it, and affecting change.
“And the third tier is actually trying to make our state better, shaking us out of this complacency.”
It's about making Schubert matterPaul Brown
That ‘complacency’ included traditionally high unemployment rates and trouble retaining young people in SA.
“We need to set the agenda at a state level to make it attractive for people to come back.”
As a newcomer to the region – something Mr Brown acknowledged could be an issue for voters – he hadn’t yet identified specific projects to champion.
“I’m really here to learn, the next couple of weeks will be about me learning about the electorate and finding out what the issues are,” he said.
“As we identify those issues, we’ll go public on them and release policy.
“I think my strong background in small business, particularly tourism and agriculture, and having represented those industries at local, state and national level, gives me a really good background.
“I’m experienced; I’ve got 40 years of experience in small business, running my own business, and also representing my community, and I do that with an absolute passion and I will apply that passion to Schubert.”
As well as running his own business, Mr Brown was chair of the Australian Tourism Export Council for six years, where he won the ATEC outstanding contribution award for his efforts.
He has also chaired, captained, and coached his local cricket and football clubs.
In order to pursue the seat of Schubert, he has taken leave from his position on the SA Tourism Industry Council.
“(SA Best) is about giving people the option to have a choice of a third party that’s not driven by big business and not driven by the unions,” Mr Brown said.
“There seems to me to be a feeling in government and the opposition that they’ve got a right to be there; to me that needs to be shaken up.
“It’s about getting people to realise if they’re elected to parliament, it’s to serve the people, it’s not to serve their own self interest.”