Tracy Hill from Meningie, who has an extensive history in small business and local politics, has been chosen by SA Best as its MacKillop candidate for the upcoming state election.
“I’m not a career politician – I’m a community member who’s put their hand up and said, ‘I want to have good outcomes for South Australia, and MacKillop’,” Ms Hill said.
“I’m hoping with the SA Best team we can do that.”
Ms Hill has always lived in South Australia, being born in Murray Bridge, and living briefly in Monarto before moving to Meningie in 1975.
Monarto has gained infamy in the state as being the satellite city which never eventuated, and Ms Hill describes her family’s participation in the doomed venture as a compulsory requisite of the Dunstan government.
The Monarto venture is what first interested Ms Hill in politics, and on a deeper level, the ethical belief that there should be balance.
“That was one of the first times that I ever got interested in, as a child, that sometimes things happen to you that are beyond your control.
“And I got an interest in justice, and fairness, and fair play, which developed from that.”
Bad luck followed her family to Meningie as her family purchased a dairy farm.
Soon after, the farm was devastated by an aphid plague, and the de-regulation of the dairy industry across the board.
Her parents moved away but Ms Hill stayed in Meningie, having acquired a job at the local BankSA branch.
When her position was made redundant after the bank downgraded its branch network, Ms Hill turned lemons into lemonade by throwing herself into her fishing and processing business.
She and her husband Glen still run their business to this day, Coorong Wild Seafood. Mr Hill is a commercial fisherman, and Ms Hill handles the administration.
Since then Ms Hill has divided her time between employment in the Coorong Council and other administrative roles, and holding positions on industry boards.
She assisted the Coorong Council when it was first amalgamated, and then later worked as a project officer for the council’s Good Food on the Road Program.
Ms Hill has also worked in administration at Jallarah Homes Inc., an aged care facility, and even returned to BankSA when the customer service manager took some time off.
“They took me back, so I must have been okay!” She laughs.
But coming from a small town like Meningie, Ms Hill is completely serious when it comes to politicians representing regional areas.
“It’s very frustrating,” she says of smaller towns being neglected by state media and policy.
“Currently it [MacKillop] is a safe Liberal seat and it doesn’t get much attention from Labor, and I think sometimes it can get taken for granted.
“If you’re a safe seat then they [Liberals] don’t have to try as hard. And you sort of feel like – up Meningie way – we get politicians coming through, and occasionally they’ll latch onto a local issue, but I don’t feel that rural electorates get the lion’s share of attention that perhaps the city electorates do.
“So it’s good to have an alternative in your electorate, and I’m hoping that’s what I can offer the electorate.”
She is on the Southern Fisherman’s Association Executive Committee, Coorong Fishery Management Committee, and the Wild Catch Fisheries South Australia Board.
She is also part of the Lifeblood Alliance, which runs a program called the River Fellowship.
People from all walks of life – scientists, farmers, irrigators – lobby the state and federal government on behalf of the Murray Darling.
But Ms Hill is more than just a one-issue candidate:
“While my background is in that kind of thing [the seafood industries] I am a rural person, and I know coming from a farming background that there are difficulties in land management and revegation acts, as well as other issues.”
Ms Hill and SA Best are also committed to policies related to health, roads, and infrastructure.
Ms Hill will be frequently touring the MacKillop electorate in the lead up to the election, and whenever she gets a spare moment she likes to spend it with her family.
She has one grandchild and another one on the way. She recently took her granddaughter for a fun day out to the Big Bash cricket match in Adelaide.
Since becoming the SA Best candidate Ms Hill’s life has been a blur of “meetings and phone calls”, and hitting the road.
But she’s proud as punch to be working with SA Best and Nick Xenophon, who she describes as “a very focused and driven person,” who “means what he says, and has the best interests of SA at heart.”
SA Best may be the underdog, but according to Ms Hill, that’s precisely why they’re a refreshing change.
“It’s a start up party. We haven’t got the financial war chest of the Liberal party or the union backing of the Labor party.
“I’ve met most of the (SA Best) candidates now, they’re all community people. Some are more experienced than others, but it’s all grassroots.
“This is real people power, as far as I’m concerned. We’re not going to be involved in slanging matches or dirty politics, it’s going to be an issue-driven campaign.”