Giving regional Australians better access to services was the key message Greens senator Lidia Thorpe brought with her to Bendigo on Friday.
With only one week to go until the federal election, Senator Thorpe paid a visit to the city to endorse her party's candidate for the seat of Bendigo, Cate Sinclair.
When asked the main focus of the campaign, Senator Thorpe was clear.
"The cost of living, accessibility in the regions to education and transport ... being able to afford to live," she said.
"And the climate emergency, it's something we live with every day. It's not coming - it's here."
The Greens want to include dental and mental health in Medicare, wipe out student debt and build one million new homes.
"That is going to assist everyday people," Senator Thorpe said.
She said the past two years of the COVID-19 pandemic had overwhelmed mental health services, hence the Medicare push to improve access to services.
She felt the Greens had campaigned well this election and the vibe on the street had been a positive one towards her party.
"I know people, 50 to 60 year-olds, who have decided to enrol to vote for the first time, particularly Aboriginal people," Senator Thorpe said.
"I had one person come up to me and said 'I've enrolled to vote and I'm voting for you, Lidia', so part of our drive is increasing enrolments."
In October 2020, Senator Thorpe became the first Aboriginal woman to represent Victoria in the Senate and was the first Aboriginal federal parliamentarian from the Greens when she was appointed to fill a vacancy created by the resignation of Richard Di Natale.
A former state politician, Senator Thorpe has been unimpressed with the Coalition's term in government.
"Three years of watching and observing, I feel they are out of touch with people's lives," she said.
"They don't understand the struggles of little people.
"That's why we have an unaffordable society, why there's been an increase in incarcerations and (demand for) mental health (services).
"I'm not seeing the government do much for the little people. They look after the big end of town but they shouldn't forget the little people and the need to represent their views.
"COVID has exacerbated the holes in society that have been there after decades and decades of neglect.
"We need to ensure these holes never happen again. Look after old people in aged care so they can have a feed and a warm bed. That's not too much to ask, is it?"
Senator Thorpe was keen to endorse Ms Sinclair for the seat of Bendigo.
"Cate's an incredible candidate," she said.
"She's a local, and not one who's been parachuted in. Real people with a real connection is what Cate brings and with the policies of the Greens behind her, how can Bendigo go wrong?"
Ms Sinclair said her campaigning for the seat of Bendigo had been going well to date.
"I feel there's momentum behind us and a lot of interest in the Greens," Ms Sinclair said.
"People have been listening to the Greens' policies. They are keen for climate action in Bendigo, in Castlemaine and Kyneton."
Ms Sinclair was grateful for Senator Thorpe's visit to Bendigo.
"It's exciting to support Lidia to maintain her seat in the Senate and it's really important we support Indigenous voices in Parliament," Ms Sinclair said.
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