Rural voice to represent the region
AT one point, Beverley McArthur’s biggest challenges came with raising her kids, Andrew, Sarah and James while she was a stay at home mother on her farm near Camperdown.
“I made a decision to stay home,” she said. “I felt, the greatest career I could have at the time was to bring up children who were well adjusted, capable, weren’t going to be a burden on society and could in fact, make a contribution.”
Being involved in her children’s lives was her ideal job back then, and she doesn’t regret it for one minute, but times have changed and so has life.
Last year was unlike any other for the family. Ms McArthur and her husband Stewart lost their son, Andrew in a cycling accident in Sydney.
“That’s a tragedy we’ll be living with for the rest of our lives,” she said.
But Ms McArthur was also elected as the member for Western Victoria in 2018.
It’s a bittersweet time of challenge, yet she still has an ability to look forward.
Always a political activist, Ms McArthur has been country vicepresident of the Victorian Liberal Party and a councillor in the Corangamite Shire. This time, she’s flattered and humbled to take a step up, wanting to do her utmost.
“I’m coming into politics in this space at a very late stage comparatively to what is the normal convention,” she said.
“I personally think that it’s a very good idea that we have people, whether they’re men or women, contribute to public life after they’ve made a contribution elsewhere.
“They have a lot of life skills and a lot of life experience, and I don’t think politics is just the world for young people, you need a mixture of everybody. For women, it may be that entering professional politics later in life is a better option.”
Having been sworn into parliament and making her maiden speech, she is getting stuck into work as western Victoria’s Liberal representative.
Ms McArthur has her eye on tackling issues she sees as emerging for rural communities, as she was born into a farming family in Terang and raised her own children on the land.
She believes farming, agriculture and rural life are under attack in Australia.
“I find it really worrying, I’ll fight back to the enth-degree,” she said.
Keeping roadside vegetation well maintained for safety of wildlife and commuters is on the agenda, as is providing needed infrastructure, especially for businesses, holding the government to account and making sure people are well educated about how the voting system works.
She hopes to experience respectful, robust debates in her new role, that are both positive and constructive.
“We’re in a fabulous country… we need to value how good it is and work together to make it better,” she said.
But when she’s not working to look after her constituents, she loves recharging amongst the picturesque country setting of her farm.
“It’s the open spaces… it’s the fact you have wonderful blue skies… I can wander around my garden and see what’s flourishing… and it’s the changes of the seasons that you see very noticeably when you live in the country,” Ms McArthur said.
“It’s all golden now, but in a month’s time it will be all green.
“It’s 5kms from our letterbox to our house. I’m there with the birds and the bees, and my dogs and all the animals.
To me, there’s no other lifestyle like it.
“It’s a wonderful supportive atmosphere to live in country communities, it’s very special… very rich.”
She’s ready to champion the region she calls home. “I’m passionate about the area, it’s been in my blood all my life, virtually,” she said.
“We produce some of the finest agricultural products… Western Victoria has a huge amount to contribute, not just to Victoria, but to Australia.”