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16 September 2020
BY DYLAN DE JONG
Dr Robert Redden plans to bring his expertise leading and collaborating in international agricultural programs to the table if he is elected to Horsham Rural City Council.
The retired seed curator and non-fiction writer announced his candidacy for the October local government elections earlier this month.
He has lived in the region since 2001 when he became Victorian Genebank curator for legumes and oilseed crops at Horsham’s Grains Innovation Park.
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Dr Redden said his vision for Horsham involved building on the regions strengths as an agricultural hub, advocating for improved passenger and freight rail, exploring tourism potential and tackling climate change from a grassroots level.
He said despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Horsham must start planning for its long-term future.
“We will get past COVID-19 and the real solution is going to have to await a vaccine, but nonetheless we should still proceed with planning for the future and encouraging local development,” he said.
Dr Redden said the Wimmera desperately needed improved rail services.
“There needs to be a sprinter service that extends from Ararat out to Horsham and Nhill. This is very important for Horsham residents and particularly for the elderly who have difficulty in climbing up the steps of a bus,” he said.
“We also need to have more frequent services from The Overland, from Adelaide to Melbourne.
“In the long term this could connect up as a ‘trans-Australia tourist rail route’, running from Cairns through to Perth or to Darwin via Adelaide. This could be similar to other countries that have cross-country rail services such as the United Kingdom or Russia with its Trans-Siberian Railway.
“People could also fit in a trip to the Grampians, the Silos Art Trail and urban developments in Horsham, particularly along the riverfront.”
Before retiring in 2017, Dr Redden’s work helped keep alive many different seed varieties and provided world genetic diversity for breeding of resistances to diseases and pests and for adaptation to climate change. As a part of this work, he helped a team of Australian curators and scientists for the first and second Australian deposits of genetic resources into the ‘Doomsday Vault’ in Svalbard, Norway, in 2011 and 2014.
He has also collaborated with researchers from countries such as USA, China, India, Japan and Columbia with both project leadership and in writing books on agriculture and climate change.
Dr Redden said he believed his background in leading agricultural programs domestically and internationally would be a major benefit in a councillor position.
“Leadership is really a matter of working with people, explaining what the program or need is and encouraging people to join in and get behind it,” he said.
He said he was keen to develop council framework that would help strengthen Horsham’s position as an ‘agricultural hub’.
“There are lots of industries here, but certainly the agriculture industry has been one of the main stays of the Horsham region, having very fertile soils,” he said.
“I’ve been very interested in Longerenong College, with developments such as smart farm agriculture, big data management and use of soil and plant sensors and smart machinery – there’s going to be new types of vocational opportunities which can been encouraged. We need to have long-term policies that build on our strengths.”
Dr Redden said he was also keen to support ‘exciting projects’ in the region such as the Murra Warra Wind Farm and two mineral sands mining ventures.
The entire September 16, 2020 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!