Time to rein­vig­o­rate


Shepparton News - - NEWS - By Myles Peter­son

Fol­low­ing a dis­as­trous per­for­mance in Shep­par­ton at the re­cent Vic­to­rian elec­tion, Na­tional Party mem­bers have shared their thoughts on where it went wrong and how to move for­ward.

The Na­tion­als’ pri­mary vote for the lower house seat of Shep­par­ton dropped from 52.9 per cent eight years ago to just 13.03 per cent this year.

And while the re­sults were not as bad in the up­per house, due to the va­garies of the Leg­isla­tive Coun­cil vot­ing sys­tem, Na­tion­als in­cum­bent Luke O’Sul­li­van looks likely to lose his seat to can­di­dates who achieved less than five per cent of the vote.

Na­tion­als Shep­par­ton branch pres­i­dent Pe­ter Shields was prag­matic about the losses and said the party needed to get back to its grass­roots.

‘‘It’s swings and round­abouts — these things hap­pen. Daniel An­drews now has full rein to mess things up,’’ he said.

Mr Shields, him­self a can­di­date for pre-se­lec­tion back in May, said the Shep­par­ton chap­ter would be­gin a full re­view.

‘‘I’m now fo­cus­ing on rein­vig­o­rat­ing the Na­tional Party within the com­mu­nity,’’ he said.

Fed­eral Mem­ber for Mur­ray and for­mer state up­per house mem­ber for North­ern Vic­to­ria Damian Drum said it was a dis­ap­point­ing re­sult for the party, while ac­knowl­edg­ing the suc­cess­ful in­cum­bent’s cam­paign.

‘‘I think full credit is due to Suzanna Sheed,’’ he said.

‘‘The peo­ple made their choice and I con­grat­u­late her.’’

Mr Drum said his party needed to take a deep breath and have a con­ver­sa­tion be­hind the scenes be­fore mov­ing for­ward.

He also con­ceded lead­er­ship change and in­fight­ing among the party’s fed­eral Lib­eral Party col­leagues may have im­pacted the elec­tion re­sult and lamented ‘‘a good eco­nomic mes­sage’’ was be­ing lost.

‘‘The econ­omy is be­ing han­dled very, very well,’’ he said.

‘‘We’ve pro­tected our bor­ders. We’re go­ing to de­liver a sur­plus — some­thing our op­po­nents haven’t been able to do for 29 years.’’

Mr Drum said run­ning a joint Coali­tion ticket in the Vic­to­rian up­per house re­gions could also be re-ex­am­ined, leav­ing room for the Na­tional and Lib­eral par­ties to re­turn to in­di­vid­ual party tick­ets.

But the Lib­er­als’ Wendy Lovell said a joint ticket was a for­mal part of the Coali­tion agree­ment and end­ing the ar­range­ment would open the two part­ners to con­test­ing lower house seats against each other.

Un­der the agree­ment, Coali­tion mem­bers do not con­test against their in­cum­bent part­ners.

‘‘The Coali­tion agree­ment has re­cently been looked at and rene­go­ti­ated and the two par­ties have com­mit­ted to re­main in Coali­tion,’’ she said.

Ms Lovell said the Coali­tion would need to re-ex­am­ine how vot­ing was done in the up­per house and how up­per house can­di­dates cam­paigned.

‘‘Now with so many mi­nor par­ties on of­fer . . . I think the way we cam­paign as ma­jor par­ties has to change,’’ she said.

For­mer State Mem­ber for Shep­par­ton Don Kil­gour said it was a mis­con­cep­tion the seat had pre­vi­ously been safe and the Na­tion­als’ poor show­ing this year needed to be taken in con­text.

He praised the Lib­er­als’ Ch­eryl Ham­mer for run­ning a strong cam­paign and noted the Coali­tion re­ceived a com­bined pri­mary vote of about 40 per cent, up from the Na­tion­als’ 35 per cent in 2014.

‘‘She ran a very good cam­paign,’’ he said.

Prag­matic: Pres­i­dent of the Shep­par­ton elec­torate branch of the Na­tion­als, Pe­ter Shields.

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