WONDERING who will be on the Narracan ballot paper come 29 November? WBBC is here to help with a set of short profiles on the candidates standing this election.
Above: It's on! Candidates for the seat of Narracan will face off on Saturday 29, including Labor's Kate Marten (left)
and the Liberal Party's Gary
Blackwood (right). Photo: William PJ Kulich.
First published in the 14 November 2014 edition of the Warragul & Baw Baw Citizen. Click here to get a copy.
The Baw Baw area’s federal seat, McMillan, was fought for by a record 13 candidates at last year’s election. Some of those candidates have put their names in the ring for this election.
This list is in alphabetical order by surname.
Rise Up Australia
NORMAN Baker’s is one of those faces you might recognise from last year.
The former Warragul Technical College teacher, pastor and flight instructor stood for the same party in the 2013 federal election.
During that campaign he was most notable for his views on religion and having no desire to actually become a politician.
“In my lifetime I never had any ambition to be a politician and I still don’t,” Mr Baker told the Warragul & Baw Baw Citizen in August 2013.
“But our nation needs someone to stand up and… we’ve got to be willing to put our life on the line for this nation – young men are going over to Afghanistan, they’re putting their life on the line and those Afghanistans (sic) are over here, and some others too, trying to take over this nation and putting [in] sharia law.”
Asked why he considered a small number of people in a minority pushing for law change to be a significant threat, Mr Baker said “it’s an easy question to answer.”
“They (Muslims) are less than two per cent of the population of Australia at present and they’re acting as though they’re the majority and people are listening to them as though they’re were the majority and they’re giving into them as though they’re the majority,” he said.
“The Muslim people don’t integrate into our lifestyle in Australia, they want to change it and they want to dramatically change it.”
When asked for proof that Muslims were not integrating Mr Baker initially declined to comment, but when pushed said Australia was “at war.”
Mr Baker’s pitch proved unpopular with McMillan voters, polling much lower than the informal vote.
GARY Blackwood has represented Narracan for the past eight years, facing his first election in 2006.
At the 2010 election Mr Blackwood increased his margin with a considerable swing to him, taking 56.7 per cent of the primary vote.
When he won he unseated Labor’s Ian Maxfield, who had held Narracan since 1999 and remains the only Labor representative the district has elected since its creation in 1967.
Mr Blackwood said he felt comfortable in the electorate and was keen to have a third term.
“I’ve always been treated with respect and I feel very comfortable right through Narracan,” he said.
“I enjoy the job because of the people out there in the community.”
Before entering parliament Mr Blackwood was chief executive officer of the Victorian Forest Harvesting and Cartage Council, having previously operated a timber transport and harvesting business. He was also a Baw Baw Shire councillor from 2003 until his election to the parliament of Victoria.
Mr Blackwood kicked off his campaign with a significant funding promise for Warragul Regional College and has since announced funding for several other schools in the electorate, keeping in line with his plan to focus on health and education this election.
So far Mr Blackwood’s campaign has seen promises of funding for improvements to “street appeal” in towns across Baw Baw, a grant for the Pakenham Racing Club to develop a stormwater harvesting system, a grant for the Drouin Tennis Club and other sporting facilities in the area, and the promise of a new CFA incident control centre in Warragul.
Mr Blackwood has previously said his motivation to work effectively in his position came from those doing it tough in the electorate.
“In particular the mums and dads with children with a disability,” he said.
“They’re the [people who] really touch you as you work through the work we do.”
KATE Marten was motivated to run for parliament by a passion for health and mental health services.
“I’ve got a vested interest in mental health and youth services,” Ms Marten said.
“My husband’s a returned serviceman, so I’ve done a bit of work with mental health there, and my 16 year old had a friend commit suicide last year.
“I started trying to find what’s available for the kids to cope and [campaigning to] stop the pattern of suicide in the area.”
Ms Marten lives outside the electorate, but only just: the recent redistribution (see Page 5) has seen the electorate grow out as far west as Nar Nar Goon and includes Bunyip, to which she has a strong family connection.
She has also indicated a move into the electorate would be in order should she win the seat.
Ms Marten has a hard job ahead of her. The redistribution has made the seat likely to become an even safer Liberal seat and Labor has made few funding promises specifically targeting Narracan.
In its 47 year history Narracan has only been won by Labor at two elections: by Ian Maxfield in 1999 and 2002.
To make the campaign even more difficult, a back injury last weekend prevented Ms Marten from campaigning for a number of days.
Outside of politics, Ms Marten works for Ausnet Services where she manages western Victoria’s gas metre data and assets.
YARRAGON GP Malcolm McKelvie has twice been selected as the Greens candidate for the federal seat of McMillan, now he’s having a go at state politics.
Dr McKelvie was the only person to attempt preselection for the Greens in Narracan and does not expect to win the seat. He does however hope his campaign will contribute positively to the party’s upper house goals.
“There were no other people putting up their hand for preselection for Narracan, that’s true, and it’s not a seat that’s considered winnable by The Greens,” Dr McKelvie told the Warragul & Baw Baw Citizen in July.
“The upper house seat candidacy was contested [by more than one person] and the inner-Melbourne seats that were winnable were certainly contested.
“I don’t mind being the underdog in these elections and my aim in this campaign is really to raise the Greens vote to help Andrea Millsom to get elected in the upper house.
“I’m really hopeful that we can make the seat of Narracan marginal, because I think in all of Gippsland, where we’ve got conservative politicians right through, Gippsland misses out and that’s because we don’t have marginal seats.
“This election I think we’ve got a really good chance of at least making Narracan marginal.”
At the last state election Greens candidate Belinda Rogers achieved a small swing to her to gain 7.77 per cent of the primary vote. With no swings away from the party in Narracan since it started standing candidates for the seat in 2002, the pressure is on Dr McKelvie to achieve another positive swing. At the last federal election there was a swing away from him of 2.09 per cent.
Dr McKelvie has been running a strong social media campaign for this election and has written occasional entries for his campain blog. On that blog he states: “the reason I am involved in politics is to create change. It disturbs me that our society is pushed and pulled by forces that I believe are out of step with common sense, majority opinion or protection of basic needs.”
Australian Country Alliance
(This image via Facebook.)
CAR SALESMAN Dave Snelling will be the second candidate ever face voters in Narracan for the Australian Country Alliance.
Snelling joined the party because he was “frustrated at the successive governments… failing to stand up for our rights and freedoms for this, and future generations.”
During the campaign Mr Snelling has made comment on drugs issues, foreign ownership of land and education, saying “we need tech schools and TAFE… to maintain a skilled workforce.”
His party’s electoral success in the area is hard to gauge. In the 2010 state election Brian Dungey drew 4.29 per cent of the vote for the party in Narracan. However at last year’s federal election, which featured a larger number of candidates, the party only achieved .0.87 per cent, beating a number of other minor parties including Norman Baker for Rise Up Australia, but still being out-polled by the informal vote.
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