‘Liberals value multiculturalism’

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Liberal candidate for Wills Shilpa Hegde feels she can really make headway in the fight against Labor in her constituency

By Tanu Kallivayalil

Shilpa Hegde came to Australia in 2001. It was an election year and she volunteered for the Liberal Party and found this to be an exhilarating experience.

“I joined the party in 2001. I chose the party because they value multiculturalism. We are a nation of migrants and we will always be and the Liberal Party understands that. When I came to Australia, the Liberal party made a big impact on me,” says Hegde.

By taking on the Division of Wills, Hegde is aware she has taken on a challenge. “Labor has not done much in that electorate. I put my hand up because I’ve lived in Wills before. The people are down to earth and are from different nationalities and they deserve more. Rising cost of living, lack of infrastructure are some of their issues. I strongly believe that the Liberals have a plan,” she says.

The Division of Wills is located in Melbourne’s northern suburbs and covers an area of about 57 sq km. “The people living here are from a low-income families and small businesses. There is a lot of unemployment and carbon tax has caused some hardship with families. A lot of businesses are closing down. They are small businesses,” she says.
Hegde believes that if she is elected, it will be her corporate background that will help her. “I am an IT consultant. I have worked with major companies like Suncorp and Telstra. I have a corporate background and I can get things done. It will help me when I get elected,” she says.

Speaking about the asylum seeker policy, Hegde says she is waiting to see how it will work. “It doesn’t make much sense at the moment. It’s not clear.”

Hegde feels that Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has a strong plan. “During the time of former Prime Minister John Howard, the boat arrivals dropped. We are not against asylum seekers. All we are saying is that they should come through the right channels. Some people on the boats may be genuine but many take advantage of the situation,” she says.

Getting back to the issues of her electorate, Hegde says the rising cost of living as a result of the carbon tax has really taken a toll. She feels that a lot of the businesses are too small to absorb the impact of yet another tax. “We do have a plan. It will help the small businesses grow because it’s one less tax to pay. It will reduce their business cost and cut the red tape,” she says.

Hegde believes the government needs to build a stronger economy. “We are in debt and we don’t need to be. We will build a stronger, productive economy and longer taxes. There will be stronger job growth through manufacturing innovation, education research and so on,” she says.

Hegde feels lucky that she has such an unqualified support from her family.

“My husband is ecstatic. So are the kids. They’ve told everyone at school that their mum is running for Parliament,” she says.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said at a recent press conference that he hoped the first Indian-born Parliamentarian would be from the Liberal party. Hegde feels that there is a truth here. “The Liberal Party gives opportunities to everyone. There are a few Indians standing. I hope I win.”