Greater access to health services on the Tomaree Peninsula and an outcome for residents affected by the Williamtown contamination are just two of Kate Washington’s areas of focus as she enters her fourth year as the state member for Port Stephens.
Reflecting on her three years in the seat, marked on March 28, Ms Washington said her greatest achievement in that time has been earning the trust of Port Stephens residents to advocate on their behalf.
She has been a loud voice in parliament about PFAS contamination as well as the sale of Department of Education land within the Mambo Wanda Wetlands to a developer in 2016, the health of koala populations in the Port Stephens and the need for more health and education services across the area.
“It’s a humbling, amazing but challenging role,” Ms Washington said. “Every day I learn something new, I learn what I can do better and how I can work to better support my community.
“The biggest and most consuming issue I’ve been involved with has been the Williamtown contamination.
“I’ll continue to highlight that the issue is there, and advocate for the residents. It’s one of my most important roles.”
Ms Washington first ran for the seat of Port Stephens in 2011. She was defeated by Liberal candidate Craig Baumann.
She ran again in 2015, fuelled by her anger at a number of government cutbacks, this time overcoming a Liberal margin of 14.7 per cent to seize the seat.
On election night she proudly declared she wanted to be a member people could trust. Ms Washington believes she has made significant headway in achieving that.
“I believe integrity is not something you can buy. You have to earn it,” she said. “Through my actions, through the work I’ve done for the community, I feel like they have learned to trust me. I think people feel like that have a voice again and there is real value in that.”
Twelve months into the job Ms Washington was appointed the Shadow Minister for Early Childhood Education and the Shadow Minister for the Hunter.
The roles, she believes, will be assets as she goes into the 2019 state election, which she has been preselected.
Ms Washington said there is still plenty to fight for, including a Medowie high school, which the Labor government has promised will be built if it is elected in 2019.
“Good government should be governing for all and I don’t think we’re seeing that right now,” Ms Washington replied when asked why she was running again. I’ll continue advocating for my community and challenging decisions that seem harmful to it.”