Eight candidates for by-election

EIGHT candidates, including four independents, will contest the Gippsland South by-election.

Independents have drawn the top three spots on the ballot paper for the March 14 vote.

Sale builder Warren Sanders is on top, followed by Viv Pepper from Korumburra and another Sale resident, Deb Meesterwho was the Country Alliance candidate for the seat at last year’s election.

In fourth is Nationals candidate Danny O’Brien, who last week resigned his seat in the upper house of parliament to contest the lower house seat vacated by former deputy premier Peter Ryan.

A second independent from Korumburra, Gerard Donohueoccupies the fifth position, Liberal Democrat Jim McDonald has drawn sixth on the ballot paper, followed by the Greens’ Andrea Millsom and Wellington Shire councillor Scott Rossetti, who is the Liberal Party candidate in eighth.

Labor decided not to enter a candidate for the traditionally conservative seat, providing room for the Greens or the independent candidates to have an impact in the by-election.

With victory predicted to go to the Nationals or Liberals, preferences are set to be a factor.

Who will Labor supporters vote for? At the last election, Labor received 21.9 per cent of the primary vote in Gippsland South.

Who will Greens voters preference? At the election, the Greens received 9.6 per cent of the vote.

The Nationals last week helped their cause of attracting Green preferences by announcing landholders should have the right to veto coal seam gas operations on their property.

Issues such as onshore gas extraction, the condition of local roads and building the new Sale Specialist School are likely to dominate discussion for the remainder of the campaign.

The electoral roll for the by-election closed last Tuesday with 40,649 electors, an increase of 408 electors since the 2014 state election.

Early voting began on Monday at 348 Raymond St, Sale, and 1 Church St, Leongatha.

Early voting centres are open between 8.30am and 6pm Monday to Friday until Friday, March 13.

Both venues will be closed on Labour Day next Monday, but will have extended opening hours on Saturday, 9am to 2pm, and Thursday, March 12, 8.30am to 8pm.

Postal vote applications are available online at www.vec.vic.gov.au, at any post office within the Gippsland South district, at the election office at 1 Church St, Leongatha, the Australian Electoral Commission office in Sale, or by phoning 131 832.

Applications for postal votes must be received by 6pm Thursday.