GIPPSLAND MHR Darren Chester welcomed last week’s announcement of a May 18 election, and says he’s taking nothing for granted.
Mr Chester, who has represented Gippsland in federal parliament since 2008, said he would be running a “positive campaign” focussed on his record of delivering infrastructure and service improvements across the region.
“It is a great honour and an enormous privilege to represent the community I love in federal parliament, and I’m proud of the things we have been able to achieve together,” Mr Chester said.
“Over the past six years in government I have delivered record road, rail and telecommunications infrastructure improvements across Gippsland and the Latrobe Valley, but there’s always more to be done.
“I want to keep working with other levels of government and communities across our region to see more investment in infrastructure which helps to create jobs and improve the living standards of local people.
“I love Gippsland, and I have the experience to make it an even better place to live, work and raise a family.”
Mr Chester said the election campaign in Gippsland should focus on the candidates’ plans for the future of the region.
“Ever since I was elected I have been committed to putting locals first and delivering a fair share of government funding to our region,” Mr Chester said.
“I want to keep fighting for the jobs in our traditional industries, but at the same time work with businesses and our communities to deliver more opportunities in areas like the visitor economy and further development of the agricultural sector.
“We need to see greater commitment from all levels of government to provide infrastructure on public land that improves the liveability of our region and encourages more visitors to explore everything Gippsland has to offer.”
Mr Chester said the federal government deserved to be re-elected on May 18 because of its strong economic management and the ability to deliver a balanced budget.
“This year the budget returned to surplus which has taken a great deal of work by our federal government,” Mr Chester said.
“We have been able to deliver income tax cuts, which is putting more money back into the pockets of Gippslanders while still delivering the infrastructure and services we need.
“If I’m given the opportunity to continue as the member for Gippsland I will keep putting locals first and keep delivering better infrastructure and improvement to health, education, aged care and child care services.”
Some of the key projects Mr Chester said he had delivered in the Wellington Shire include $51 million to modernise the Macalister Irrigation District, $392 million to upgrade and expand RAAF Base East Sale, $2.3 million for supported accommodation at Mirridong, $2 million for Rosedale’s central business district and Willow Park upgrades, and $4.5 million for the Port of Sale library and community centre.
“My work to secure a Medicare licence for the Sale MRI is another project that has made a real difference in our community, providing a local MRI service that can offer Medicare rebates,” Mr Chester said.
“I’ve delivered $342 million to duplicate the Princes Highway between Sale and Traralgon and a further $25 million to upgrade the highway east of Sale, improving road safety and better connecting major industries to the region with faster travel times.
“As Minister for Infrastructure and Transport I was also able to deliver an historic investment in Gippsland rail.
“The federal government has committed $504 million to upgrade Gippsland rail infrastructure and a further $8 million to fund a business case for fast rail between Traralgon and Melbourne.
“Improving travel times from Melbourne to Gippsland will boost the visitor economy and create more job opportunities in our region.
“I’ve demonstrated I’m not interested in silly political games.
“I’m focused on getting things done and continuing to deliver Gippsland’s fair share.”