Gippsland South still a one-horse race

LESS than three months out from the Victorian state election, the fight for the lower house seat of Gippsland South remains a one-horse race.

Nationals Gippsland South MLA Danny O’Brien claimed it highlighted just how little the Labor Party cared about Gippsland.

With both Labor and the Greens so far failing to nominate a candidate, Mr O’Brien remains the only contender for the Gippsland South electorate.

“If you want a demonstration of how little Labor cares about our electorate, this is it,” Mr O’Brien said.

“Labor didn’t bother running in the 2015 byelection and in 2014 their candidate was the PA to Labor’s state secretary — a Melbourne resident who didn’t even set foot in Gippsland.”

Despite the lack of competition, Mr O’Brien said his focus was on ensuring the people of Gippsland South continued to have a strong local voice in parliament.

“Perhaps Labor doesn’t think Gippsland South is worth fighting for, but I will continue to work hard to earn the support of the people of Gippsland South,” he said.

“It’s not something that I will ever take for granted.

“We have achieved some good results in this region in the past four years, but could do so much better with the Nationals in government.”

Earlier this year, Premier Daniel Andrews was critical of the Liberal Party for failing to announce Bendigo candidates five months out from the election, saying: “It is perhaps a very clear sign that the Liberal Party don’t take Bendigo that seriously, if only just these few months before the election they don’t even have candidates in place.”

The Liberals and Nationals have since announced their candidates for Bendigo East, not Bendigo West.

Mr O’Brien said Mr Andrews was now condemned by his own words with respect to Gippsland South.

“Labor has shown time and time again that it only cares about city votes,” he said.

“It’s done that by ignoring funding needs for the Princes Highway duplication to Sale, Korumburra Secondary College and Foster Primary School, among others.

“I am committed to the people of Gippsland and ensuring that regional people are wellrepresented in parliament.

“I will welcome some electoral competition — it is necessary for our democracy to function.”

Mr O’Brien was elected to the lower house seat of Gippsland South in a 2015 by-election after spending 12 months in the upper house as a member for the Eastern Victoria region.