Today we begin a series of meeting the declared candidates for Katherine contesting the NT election. First up is well-known local Melanie Usher for Territory Alliance.
Melanie Usher says she is standing in Katherine for Territory Alliance because Katherine is only harnessing a fraction of its potential.
"In the Territory the issue is always going to be access to markets, but Katherine is the crossroads of the NT," she said.
"Here we can access Darwin from Alice springs, to WA and to Queensland and we should be capitalising far better upon that position than we currently are.
"Living in Katherine I see there's a lot of concern for businesses closing down, of course Terrace Emporium is a major example but there's plenty of empty shops in the main street now.
"Even before COVID-19 we've been placed in a terrible economic position by the Labor government.
"Primary Industries along with tourism have built this town and we need to get them the infrastructural support they need.
"The list goes on - the airport needs development so we can get freight in, the hospital and schools are in dire need of greater resources to fulfil their important roles in the town.
"I'm sick of Katherine being left behind, this is a particularly difficult time for Katherine and without a strong voice we will never get ahead," Mrs Usher said.
Mrs Usher was born in Katherine and grew up on two different stations in the Katherine region, before later completing a Bachelor of Arts in Brisbane.
Upon graduation, she began work in the office of then NT Minister Daryl Manzie.
Mrs Usher sees her experiences from then to now in the political space as a significant leg up to taking on the complex duties of a parliamentary representative.
"Working as a representative for Katherine will be a new and challenging experience for whoever gets the position, and each one of us would have to learn a lot on the fly," she said.
"I have a passion for politics though and my experience within the political system does provide me with great insights on how things can progress from idea to application.
"I jumped at the chance to work with Daryl Manzie and I enjoyed it immensely, I then worked for the Department of Business organising the Chief Minister's business roundtables.
"I met my husband Jeff and moved down here, we got married and I had my first child so I began working for our business Custom Cabinets.
"But about a year ago I moved back into the world of politics in the office of (Federal Senator for the Northern Territory) Sam McMahon running her campaign," Mrs Usher said.
She made this decision despite a long affiliation with the CLP, because she believes in TA's grassroots model of decision-making.
"The decision for me to run was in a sense community-driven, because I was responding to a large number of calls put into us here at the business and also personally," she said.
"Residents of Katherine deserve for this election to at least be a competition so in a sense I've already succeeded in making it that.
"Terry was invited down here by members of the community and at the first meeting my name was raised by the people there.
"Those decisions for Territory Alliance aren't made in backrooms and I really appreciate that about the organisation.
"I come from a conservative background but there's also other members who have very left-wing backgrounds, I've been really impressed by the way we've been able to converse with one another.
"It's a politically centrist organisation and I believe that leaves us well-placed to listen to people to get the best result for our electorates.
"I think the most likely election outcome is a Coalition with the CLP with us as the majority, but for now as TA continues to grow as an organisation I'm shooting to win here in Katherine," Mrs Usher said.
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