No La­bor show in Nar­ra­can?

Warragul & Drouin Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - By Keith An­der­son

The Aus­tralian La­bor Party is still with­out en­dorsed can­di­dates for the Leg­isla­tive As­sem­bly seats of Nar­ra­can and Gipp­s­land South, both held by the Lib­eral-Na­tional coali­tion, with the State elec­tion only 52 days away.

And the clos­ing date for nom­i­na­tions is just 36 days away, on Novem­ber 8 with early vot­ing to be open from Novem­ber 12.

The ALP State gov­ern­ment does not hold any of the five Leg­isla­tive As­sem­bly seats in Gipp­s­land – Nar­ra­can, Mor­well, Bass, Gipp­s­land South and Gipp­s­land East.

If it does not have can­di­dates in Nar­ra­can and Gipp­s­land South about 40 per cent of Gipp­s­land en­rolled vot­ers will not be given the choice to vote for the ALP in the Lower House.

In­quiries by The Gazette to the ALP State head­quar­ters last week did not throw light on whether there would be can­di­dates in Nar­ra­can and Gipp­s­land South other than an un­of­fi­cial com­ment that the sit­u­a­tion “re­mained open”.

The five Gipp­s­land seats are held by mem­bers of the Lib­eral Party (two), The Na­tion­als (two) and an in­de­pen­dent Rus­sell Northe, elected in 2014 as a mem­ber of The Na­tion­als but later mov­ing to the cross-bench.

Nar­ra­can, Gipp­s­land South and Gipp­s­land East are among the safety of the 38 seats held by the Lib­eral-Na­tional coali­tion.

Nar­ra­can ranks 29th safest, Gipp­s­land South 33rd and Gipp­s­land East 36th.

The most ten­u­ous for the Coali­tion in Gipp­s­land is Mor­well where Mr Northe, stand­ing for The Na­tion­als, won in 2014 by a mar­gin of 1.6 per cent after pref­er­ence votes were al­lo­cated.

Nar­ra­can is held by Lib­eral Gary Black­wood, who was re-elected in 2014 with an ab­so­lute ma­jor­ity polling 55.2 per cent of first pref­er­ence votes. The ALP can­di­date re­ceived 29.6 per cent. The Gazette un­der­stands there has been lit­tle in­ter­est from po­ten­tial lo­cal can­di­dates to stand for the ALP in Nar­ra­can.

How­ever, party con­tacts have stated one per­son did ex­press some in­ter­est be­fore de­cid­ing not to go ahead with a nom­i­na­tion.

In a let­ter to the edi­tor pub­lished in the Leon­gatha-based news­pa­per, The Great South­ern Star, last week the writer said the South Gipp­s­land branch of the ALP had not nom­i­nated a can­di­date for Gipp­s­land South.

The rea­sons given were that the branch was rel­a­tively new and only formed after the party did not field a can­di­date at a 2015 by-elec­tion for the seat fol­low­ing the res­ig­na­tion from par­lia­ment of the for­mer leader of The Na­tion­als Peter Ryan.

The let­ter writer added that the branch “did not have enough mem­bers for any­one to take time off work or they had other com­mit­ments” and that fund­ing was also a big is­sue.

He said the South Gipp­s­land ALP branch would help in other seats (at the State elec­tion) and put its time, en­ergy and re­source into help­ing the ALP can­di­date for Monash (the new name for the cur­rent McMil­lan elec­torate) at next year’s Fed­eral elec­tion.

The ALP ran a can­di­date for Gipp­s­land South at the 2014 elec­tion at­tract­ing 21.87 per cent of first pref­er­ence votes com­pared to Mr Ryan’s 57.26 per cent.

Danny O’Brien stepped down as one of the five Eastern Vic­to­rian mem­bers of the Up­per House Leg­isla­tive As­sem­bly seat to con­test the va­cancy caused by Mr Ryan’s re­tire­ment by­elec­tion for The Na­tion­als, win­ning on pref­er­ences after he and the Lib­eral can­di­date polled a com­bined 71.81 per cent of votes.

The Na­tion­als have a firm grip on Gipp­s­land East where Tim Bull polled 60.36 per cent of pri­mary votes in 2014.

The La­bor Party has en­dorsed East Gipp­s­land Shire deputy mayor and for­mer mayor Mark Reeves to run against Mr Bull.

Mr Reeves, who lives at Mal­la­coota, is the found­ing prin­ci­pal of the Schools for Stu­dent Lead­er­ship, a gov­ern­ment ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tion in East Gipp­s­land.

In the Bass elec­torate sit­ting Lib­eral mem­ber Bryan Payn­ter scored 54.55 per cent of the vote against the ALP can­di­date’s 45.45 per cent after the distri­bu­tion of pref­er­ences to win in 2014.

It would re­quire a swing against Mr Payn­ter of about 5.5 per cent to un­seat him.

The ALP can­di­date next month will be Jor­dan Crug­nale, a for­mer Bass Coast mayor.

Ms Crug­nale has worked on com­mu­nity arts and de­vel­op­ment projects.

The Mor­well seat looks likely to be hotly con­tested.

Al­though sit­ting can­di­date Mr Northe is yet to an­nounce whether he will be a can­di­date a strong field ap­pears as­sured.

The ALP has en­dorsed for­mer Hazel­wood power sta­tion worker Mark Richards as its can­di­date with oth­ers that have de­clared they will stand in­clud­ing for­mer Sen­a­tor Ricky Muir (Shoot­ers, Fish­ers and Farm­ers Party, La­trobe City coun­cil­lor Dale Har­ri­man (Lib­eral Party) and Sheri­dan Bond, a for­mer La­trobe coun­cil­lor and State vice-pres­i­dent of the Na­tional Party who won a four-way con­test for en­dorse­ment for The Na­tion­als.

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