Luck of the Ballot Draw

Gregory Forster (UAP), Jannette Langley (ALP), Greg Hansford (PHON), Marjorie Thorpe (GRN) and Darren Chester (Nats). Photo: Stefan Bradley

Tom Parry & Stefan Bradley

CANDIDATES for the seat of Gippsland have learned where their names will fall on the ballot at next month’s federal election.

The Australian Electoral Commission held the ballot draw at their Sale office on Friday with five of the six candidates in attendance.

Greg Hansford, representing Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party, drew top spot on the ballot.

When asked whether securing first place on the ballot would make a difference to his chances, Mr Hansford was indifferent, choosing instead to talk about his fellow candidates.

“I’m really happy there are so many independents that have stood up,” Mr Hansford said, referring to the candidates from minor parties such as the Liberal Democrats and United Australia Party.

“There are a lot of Victorians who are sick of the same old politics, same old ideas, so the independents like us have new fresh ideas to try and fix the mess that Australia’s in.”

Incumbent Member for Gippsland Darren Chester, representing the National Party, drew the second place on the ballot.

Mr Chester said that he doesn’t think the position on the ballot means that much in a seat like Gippsland.

“The people of Gippsland are very astute and can find the candidate they’re looking for on the ballot paper,” Mr Chester said.

“I think we sometimes exaggerate the importance of ballot position, but it’s good to have the official campaign underway.”

Mr Chester said that his campaign will be “relentlessly positive and optimistic” about the future of Gippsland.

“I think the experience I’ve gained over the past 14 years makes me a strong candidate for the seat,” Mr Chester said.

“I’m looking forward to getting out and meeting as many people as possible and discussing their ideas for the future, but also my plans for how we can make Gippsland an even better place to live and to work and to raise your children.”

Third place on the ballot went to Gregory Forster, representing the United Australia Party.

Mr Forster shared the opinion of Mr Chester on ballot placings, believing that Gippslanders were less likely to “donkey vote” than other constituents.

“I think people are motivated for a change, so they’re going to be looking for the candidate that supports their values, and I think that the United Australia Party is the new Country party, because it’s values align with country people,” Mr Forster said.

“The United Australia Party has policies that clearly support communities, clearly support regional area, clearly support individuals and their freedoms.

“So I think when people go to vote, they’re going to be searching for the name that represents their values.”

Marjorie Thorpe, representing the Greens, drew fourth place on the ballot.

Ms Thorpe cited a need to look after the environment as her primary motivation.

“The concern I’ve been involved in is logging in the forests, where the forests are being destroyed,” Ms Thorpe said.

“They’ve got to stop logging the forests.

“The forests are for the people and for the land – no-one owns the forest.”

Ms Thorpe also highlighted aged-care, education and Medicare as issues she would be campaigning on.

Liberal Democratic Party candidate Jim McDonald, who was not in attendance on the day, drew fifth spot on the ballot.

A spokesperson for Mr McDonald was contacted for comment.

The sixth and final spot on the ballot fell to Jannette Langley, representing the Australian Labor Party.

With the Nationals and Mr Chester holding Gippsland by a margin of 16.7 per cent, Ms Langley is aiming to increase Labor’s first-preference votes at this election rather than win outright.

“I’ve got some really positive feedback from people out there, and people that have previously voted for (Chester) that just don’t like the direction the Nats are going,” Ms Langley said.

“Realistically, can I win this seat? Possibly not.

“But taking a large percentage off (Chester)… This is probably the best election to do it at.”

There was a cordial atmosphere among the candidates.

The Federal Election will take place Saturday, May 21, with the AEC to announce voting and pre-poll locations over the coming days.

Ballot Draw: Division of Gippsland

1: Greg Hansford (Pauline Hanson’s One Nation)

2: Darren Chester (National Party, incumbent)

3: Gregory Forster (United Australia Party)

4: Marjorie Thorpe (Australian Greens)

5: Jim McDonald (Liberal Democratic Party)

6: Jannette Langley (Australian Labor Party)

The results of the ballot draw for the Division of Gippsland.
Photo: Tom Parry

 

The results of the ballot draw for the Division of Gippsland.
Photo: Tom Parry