Race is on for Mallee

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - Front Page - BY COLIN MACGILLIVRAY

The Na­tional Party has en­dorsed six can­di­dates for pre­s­e­lec­tion as the race to re­place Andrew Broad in the fed­eral seat of Mallee at this year’s elec­tion gets un­der­way.

Minyip farmer Shane Mc­grath has joined Mil­dura so­cial worker Dr Anne Web­ster, Irym­ple busi­ness­man Toby Heil, Birchip farmer Ber­nadette Ho­gan, Mallee Sus­tain­able Farm­ing ex­ec­u­tive chair­man Daniel Lin­klater and Mil­dura Po­lice act­ing in­spec­tor Paul Mathieson as can­di­dates for Na­tion­als pre­s­e­lec­tion.

The six can­di­dates will par­tic­i­pate in fo­rums at Mil­dura on Jan­uary 14, Swan Hill on Jan­uary 15, Hor­sham on Jan­uary 16 and St Ar­naud on Jan­uary 17 be­fore Na­tional Party mem­bers meet in Birchip for pre­s­e­lec­tion on Jan­uary 19.

They are vy­ing to re­place Mr Broad, who last month an­nounced he would not re­con­test the seat he has held since 2013 in the wake of al­le­ga­tions he in­ap­pro­pri­ately mes­saged and met with a ‘sugar baby’ from a dat­ing web­site in Hong Kong.

Mr Mc­grath is the son of longserv­ing Na­tion­als state mem­ber Bill Mc­grath.

He said his father’s po­lit­i­cal legacy was an in­spi­ra­tion to him.

“He went to ev­ery­thing he phys­i­cally could have gone to in the com­mu­nity in terms of func­tions and op­por­tu­ni­ties to mix and meet with peo­ple,” he said.

“He was very much a work­ing man — he saw the Na­tional Party as rep­re­sent­ing the work­ing farmer and small busi­ness.

“He read­ily mixed with all lev­els of peo­ple and gave his time to all lev­els of peo­ple.”

Mr Mc­grath said he would have a sim­i­lar fo­cus on en­gag­ing with the com­mu­nity and rep­re­sent­ing their in­ter­ests in par­lia­ment.

“I have a strong faith in God and I stand for fam­ily val­ues,” he said.

“I’m a dis­ci­plined, de­ter­mined per­son who is well or­gan­ised, with a cre­ative mind and a lot of en­ergy.

“The key role of the job as I see it is as­sist­ing peo­ple with is­sues they have with the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment’s ser­vices.

“You rep­re­sent the peo­ple, so you need to stay in touch with the peo­ple and find out what’s im­por­tant to them.

“It’s your job to get that through to the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment to get re­sults for them.

“I’m a re­sults per­son who has al­ways been de­ter­mined to win.”

Mr Mc­grath said the party would seek to re­build trust with mem­bers and the broader com­mu­nity as it dealt with the fall­out of Mr Broad’s res­ig­na­tion, but said it was im­por­tant for peo­ple to re­mem­ber the work Mr Broad and other Na­tion­als mem­bers had done in the re­gion.

“You’d be fool­ish to say that it didn’t have some ef­fect on trust, but a lesser man might have tried to ride through it and keep his job,” he said.

“Shane Warne rep­re­sented Aus­tralia re­ally well, but he had some weak­nesses, which prob­a­bly cost him some re­spect.

“The Essendon Foot­ball Club had a drug saga that cost them re­spect, and you have to re­build that.

“In this case, Andrew has cho­sen to go and tidy up his life.

“I re­spect the de­ci­sion he has made, at the same time not for­get­ting Peter Fisher and John For­rest were ex­cel­lent long­stand­ing Na­tional Party mem­bers who pro­duced ex­cel­lent re­sults for the Mallee.

“Andrew’s record of what he’s been able to achieve prob­a­bly stands very well along­side them.”

Mr Mc­grath said he had long been con­sid­er­ing a move to pol­i­tics, but now felt the time was right with his chil­dren hav­ing ma­tured and grown.

Strong op­tions

Na­tion­als Vic­to­rian pres­i­dent Neil Pankhurst said the party be­lieved any of the six pre­s­e­lec­tion can­di­dates would be strong op­tions to re­place Mr Broad.

“The cal­i­bre of these can­di­dates is a tes­ta­ment to the pas­sion and com­mu­nity spirit of our branch mem­bers in the Wim­mera and Mallee,” he said. “Any one of these in­di­vid­u­als would make a great rep­re­sen­ta­tive to con­tinue the Na­tion­als’ legacy in the dis­trict of Mallee.”

The Lib­eral Party an­nounced it would con­test the seat, but is yet to open nom­i­na­tions for pre­s­e­lec­tion.

Lib­eral nom­i­na­tions will open on Jan­uary 15, with a can­di­date to be cho­sen next month.

La­bor is also yet to com­mence its pre­s­e­lec­tion process.

Cit­i­zens Elec­toral Coun­cil mem­ber Chris Lahy, who stood for Mallee in the 2016 fed­eral elec­tion, has an­nounced he will con­test the seat again.

For­mer Yar­ri­ambi­ack Shire mayor Ray Kingston an­nounced last month he would run as an in­de­pen­dent can­di­date.

Dis­il­lu­sioned

Mr Kingston said Mallee vot­ers had be­come dis­il­lu­sioned with the state of fed­eral pol­i­tics, and he wanted to present an al­ter­na­tive.

“Since I’ve an­nounced that I’ll be run­ning, the re­sponse has been in­cred­i­bly pos­i­tive from ev­ery­one across the elec­torate,” he said.

“The themes that are the lit­eral rea­sons I’m run­ning — of frus­tra­tion at what’s hap­pen­ing on the ground here in terms of any kind of se­ri­ous in­vest­ment or at­ten­tion — res­onate widely.

“I’m not the only one feel­ing like that by a long shot.

“The very rea­sons I’m run­ning are the very rea­sons peo­ple are in­ter­ested, and per­haps in­ter­ested in a new way of look­ing at pol­i­tics in this part of the world.”

Mr Kingston said suc­ces­sive gov­ern­ments had failed to look af­ter the ba­sic needs of the Mallee dis­trict, and ad­dress­ing those needs would be his top pri­or­ity.

“Mallee peo­ple have in­ter­ests in agri­cul­ture and all sorts of things, but when you haven’t got sat­is­fac­tory ac­cess to telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions, health, ed­u­ca­tion, roads and in­fra­struc­ture for ba­sic ser­vices, un­til you’ve got that stuff right, it’s pretty hard to be fo­cus­ing on other is­sues.

“That’s where we’ve got to start as a re­gion — we’ve got to start with the ba­sics.”

Mr Kingston said the vast size of the Mallee dis­trict — which ex­tends from Mil­dura in the north to Eden­hope in the south — made it dif­fi­cult to gov­ern, but said he would wel­come the task.

“It is a huge elec­torate and it is a chal­lenge no mat­ter who sits in the chair,” he said.

“You lit­er­ally have to cover a lot of ground to en­gage with peo­ple, and en­gag­ing peo­ple is what pol­i­tics is all about if it’s done right.

“I’m based in the Wim­mera ob­vi­ously, but I’m head­ing up to the Kerang-swan Hill re­gion this week and I’m re­ally look­ing for­ward to it.

“I’m look­ing for­ward to go­ing to an area that I’m not quite as fa­mil­iar with and get­ting to know the peo­ple there.”

Mr Kingston said Mr Broad’s res­ig­na­tion was un­likely to be a large fac­tor at the elec­tion and that Mallee vot­ers had long been dis­il­lu­sioned with the state of pol­i­tics in the re­gion.

“I think it’s a mis­take to point the fin­ger at Andrew Broad in iso­la­tion,” he said.

“How peo­ple feel about that is a dif­fer­ent is­sue, but there’s been a long­grow­ing frus­tra­tion.

“Peo­ple look around them and see that they’re not be­ing looked af­ter in terms of ba­sic in­fra­struc­ture.

“Then they look at Can­berra and see the ridicu­lous carry on and peo­ple who are in­ter­ested in them­selves and their own am­bi­tions rather than solv­ing our prob­lems.”

NEW MIS­SION: For­mer Yar­ri­ambi­ack Shire mayor Ray Kingston is look­ing for­ward to meet­ing new peo­ple as he trav­els the Mallee elec­torate.

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