Eden-Monaro: Adaminaby's Fiona Brayshaw wants politicians with vision

Asked when Australia last had a prime minister with long-term vision, Fiona Brayshaw, who runs the Adaminaby Store with her husband Steve, had an emphatic answer.

"Chifley," she said.

Fiona Brayshaw, owner of the Adaminaby Store, who wants politicians with vision. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong

Fiona Brayshaw, owner of the Adaminaby Store, who wants politicians with vision. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong

Labor prime minister Ben Chifley launched the Snowy Mountains Scheme, Australia's largest engineering project, in Adaminaby in 1949, before the town was moved to make way for Lake Eucumbene.

Modern politicians no longer had the capacity for that kind of forward thinking, Mrs Brayshaw said.

"Yes, they put in a road, they put in a train line, they do this, but it's only for the immediate. It's not looking to the future.

"The only thing I think they've done for the future is put in a second airport in Sydney. But they should have used Canberra Airport, it's the capital of Australia.

"We should have expanded that infrastructure, which would have been better for the regional area down here."

Now there is bipartisan support for the Snowy 2.0 scheme, which would expand the generation capacity of the existing hydro-electricity scheme, because of the original scheme's success, Mrs Brayshaw said.

The Canberra Times visited the Adaminaby Store, which aims to stock everything you might need at a pinch in snowy country, on a trip through the tightly held electorate of Eden-Monaro ahead of the election on Saturday.

Mrs Brayshaw said Adaminaby was a town with a lot of potential but it was caught in a forgotten part of the electorate. "We could be the southern Murrumbateman to Canberra with the road being sealed," she said.

Since Snowy 2.0 was announced, houses in the town have sold for higher prices and long-term accommodation has become harder to find.

But incumbent federal member Mike Kelly had "done absolutely nothing ever" for Adaminaby, Mrs Brayshaw said.

"There are some who are very cheesed off with the two majors and you hear from the customers when they come in that they are looking at what are the alternatives," she said.

None of Adaminaby's problems could be fixed just by throwing money at the town, which is home to about 300 people, Mrs Brayshaw said.

"Yeah, lovely, throw money at us. But you've got to have the trained people, the people willing to move to these areas, the people willing to do that job," she said.


Stories of people avoiding doctors because it is too hard to get an emergency appointment in Cooma were common, but attracting a local doctor might not solve the problem, Mrs Brayshaw said.

"It's all good and well saying put a doctor in Adaminaby. You need the patients to use that service, so you've got that catch-22.

"All very fine that we want a doctor, but have we got the people? And would it be open the times that we need, when the fisherman gets a hook in his thumb? [What if] the doctor's out fishing himself?"

Until politicians took the time to listen to rural and regional communities, towns like Adaminaby would suffer from political neglect, Mrs Brayshaw said.

The policies designed by politicians to fix urban problems did not always translate well to the needs of rural communities, she said.

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