The Weekly Advertiser

EDITORIAL | Labor enters into a Mallee fight

Dean Lawson Editorial Nov 2017

The announcement of a Labor candidate for the federal electorate of Mallee represents a critical piece of a regional voting jigsaw puzzle.
With National, Liberal, minor party and independent candidates having all put up their hands to contest the historically safe conservative seat, Labor had been the missing element.
Now, as we track towards a federal election some time this year, people in the big north-western corner of the state at least have a broader choice on where to place their vote.
Labor confirmed yesterday that former community-services worker Carole Hart from Maryborough would be its Mallee representative. She followed fellow Labor candidate Maurice Billi of Stawell, who is standing for the seat of Wannon.
Ms Hart comes into the role basing her platform on a ‘strong belief in social justice’ reflected through ‘access to health and education where and when it’s needed, secure jobs for workers and services to support people young and old’.
She joins the Nationals’ Anne Webster, Liberal representative Serge Petrovich, Leigh Firman from the Science Party, Chris Lahy, Citizens Electoral Council, Rick Miller, Australia United Party and independents Ray Kingston, Cecilia Moar and Jason Modica on the ballot paper.
The players on the board, keen to fill a vacancy left by retiring Nationals member Andrew Broad, now appear set and we wait with interest to see how people cast their vote.
What is glaringly obvious with Ms Hart’s pre-selection is just how geographically large Mallee has become.
This suggests people are likely, apart from following national ideologies and arguments, to base at least part of their voting decision on a variety of unrelated home-town issues.
Ms Hart is from Maryborough, which switched from Wannon to Mallee as part of last year’s electoral boundary changes, and by Victorian standards a long way from the key centres Horsham and Mildura.
In fact everyone putting their hand up for the seat, whether in the Wimmera, Mallee, Mildura or Central Goldfields, are a long way from everywhere else.
Many have spoken about a tyranny of distance being a severe representation disadvantage in Mallee.
Regardless of assurances from all sorts of political leaders, the perception hovers over the electorate like a slow-moving cloud. The most successful candidate for Mallee will be the person who can win over not only their own backyard, but also a variety of many distant backyards.
History tells us that the Nationals’ Anne Webster is an obvious favourite – the seat is after all a conservative stronghold.
We’re unsure how the election in our part of the world unfolds, be it for the seats of Mallee or Wannon.
Minister Dan Tehan holds Wannon for the Liberals.
Whoever wins either seat will have big jobs of overseeing much of Victoria’s rural heartland.

Carole Hart Labor’s candidate for Mallee

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Posted on Mar 27 2019

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