Catherine King MP representing town and country
What’s it like to be working in the hallowed halls of Parliament House in Canberra? Catherine King has represented the Ballarat electorate federally since 2001, and since then she’s learnt how to deal with the ever increasing influence of online technology in the way she communicates.
“[T]echnology has meant the accessibility of politicians,” she says. “So, you can imagine, the forms that people can communicate with you from are much more increased which means the workload has increased substantially since I first started. It was pretty big when I started and it's increased ever since, exponentially, every year.”
Ms King reflects on some of the challenges facing regional communities and Ballarat in particular with its influx of new residents. “[H]ow do we actually try and ensure that the growth that's happening in the town is actually shared equally across across the town? That's not an easy thing to do and a lot of regional communities are experiencing that.”
As Shadow Minister for Health, Ms King examines the health issues affecting Ballarat, including health inequality. “How do you make sure people have access to allied health services? And how do you also then work in the preventative health space of trying to get people active in moving?”
Obesity’s a particular challenge affecting Ballarat, but a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages is not Labor’s policy at this stage. “[I]t’s not Labor's policy to do that — I’m aware the U.K. though is bringing that policy in and I'll watch that with interest to see what that actually does.
“But I think it's (the fight against obesity) actually a multi-pronged attack that you actually have to have in communities that engages people in their own health.”
In episode 5 of Ballarat Talks, Ms King also explains how her family has kept her grounded from the constant public and media spotlight.