Insight: Mitch Williams, Member for MacKillop

Digital Editor Rebekah Holliday spoke with Member for MacKillop Mitch Williams. Mr Williams is re-contesting his seat at the 2014 state election and is a member of the Liberal Party.

Mr Williams was elected in 1997 and succeeded Dale Baker (LIB). He grew up on a farm in the South East at Mount Burr and still lives there today.

One thing that's very important in my electorate is agriculture. I say that because when BHP announced a postponement of the Roxby expansion, there were those in the government who were saying we had agriculture to fall back on.

The thing is, this government has failed agriculture in the 12 years it has been in power. We've seen significant cuts to the Department of Primary Industry. These cuts affect independent spending on research and development for the public sector. Research and development is being done but much of it is commercial.

The farmers in SA have neither the best soil or the best climate in the world. But we had traditionally been able to compete internationally because we've had the investment in R and D.

We currently have a Labor government which, as I said, is very city centric. Hopefully, I would part of a group that forms in government which has a much better understanding of regional and rural SA including the economy, social understanding and industry understanding.

Having been in the game for a considerable amount of time now, I have a good understanding of the political system including legislative processes and how the public sector operates.

I think the public is cynical [of politicians] because they form the opinion that a lot of politicians appear to be, at times, self-serving.

I think I can quite honestly say that has never been a part of my make up. My goal has always been to represent the people who put me there.

I think most most politicians are there [in the job] for the right reasons.

Right across the board, this government has centralised decision-making. I'd like to see a complete turnaround.

I would like to see restoration of decision-making in the community. When I started in the 1990's we had local hospital boards making a lot of the important decisions about the health needs of their communities. I would like to see that again. It would also help to address the issue of health professional shortages in the electorate.

Research and development in the agricultural field is another one along with transport – the continuation of works and upgrades to the Riddock and Princes highways. We need more passing lanes, shoulders widened, etc.

I think it would be grossly arrogant of me not to acknowledge I could have done better at everything I have done. I don't have any regrets to be honest. I can't pull out any one issue.

In Opposition, you somewhat limited in what you can do. You lobby and lobby and you try to build relationships with some ministers and get done what you can.

I lobbied to have the Save the River Murray levy cancelled for those residents who don't have an impact on the river, such as Bordertown, Penola, Naracoorte and Millicent. It was a senseless tax to put on people who have no impact on the river.