• Loddon Herald

Opening pitches

THE OFFICIAL pitch for the votes of Loddon residents has started after Prime Minister Scott Morrison at the weekend called the federal election for May 21.

Local voters will be among more than 100,000 people casting their vote in Mallee, held by the Nationals’ Anne Webster.

Dr Webster won the seat three years ago off a 27.86 primary vote following the retirement of Andrew Broad.

From a field of 13 candidates, Dr Webster finished with a two-party preferred margin of 16 per cent.

In their first pitches to local voters, child care featured highly with candidates.

Dr Webster said: “‘I have been working with the Loddon Shire Council and members of the community to address issues such as roads, and the lack of child care in Wedderburn, which in turn creates barriers for young families to engage in the workforce.

“I fought for a further $20 million for an additional round of the CCCF funding which specifically targets regional areas where there is a gap in child care. This will open in late June.

“We will continue to support small businesses to strengthen workforce participation. I will continue to advocate for better aged care for our seniors, including home care, training places, and respite services.

“Health care remains a priority for me, and we will build on outcomes for regional centres, such as permanent telehealth, and HECs debt relief for doctors who move to regional centres. We have increased telecommunications and NBN roll out.”

Independent Sophie Baldwin said: “Mallee needs change and I will be that change; an MP, who listens to, learns from, and serves her community with integrity.

“Democracy should mean good policy triumphs over politics. But politics are overwhelming policy, and democracy is failing the Mallee.

“The community knows its issues and often has the answers – imagine if your knowledge was given a voice, imagine what Mallee could achieve.

“In 2022 Loddon Shire does not have access to one single day care facility, how does that even happen?

“We need investment in community building infrastructure including child care, medical services, aged care, internet and mobile coverage, not to mention nation building infrastructure including road and rail.”

Community independent Claudia Haenel said: “I want to see a new deal for the Mallee. If we really want to level up, we can’t keep doing things the way we always have and expect a different outcome. For a long time we’ve been a safe stronghold for the National Party. That means we’re too easily overlooked in Canberra.

“That has to change. And the voters of Mallee I have been talking to want that change. I intend to deliver for them”

“I am a practical person who seeks out practical solutions. In agriculture, energy, transport and education, there are practical solutions out there that are a win-win for our economy, our people and our environment. 

“If we find ways for our homes, business and farms to become more self-sufficient by creating our own practical solutions, we can set ourselves up for employment opportunities and build sustainable regional centres for generations to come.

“Getting our region future ready for the long term and generations to come is the basis of my 12-point economic recovery plan.”

United Australia Party’s Stuart King said: “The Mallee needs a federal representative who offers you true local community representation, critical thinking, and the passion to drive economic growth and infrastructure improvements amidst recognising and prioritising community and social developments and support.

“My priorities and plans to address local issues include an overhaul of the Murray Darling Basin Plan to improve water security for farmers and the environment; investment in key infrastructure such as roads, rail, telecommunications, hospitals, aged care and child care; improvements to the way local governments are funded; and supporting families and communities to rebuild and re-engage after the disruption, separation and segregation of the last two years. After 73 years of National Party representation in Mallee, I am keen to get something done for a change.”

Mr Lahy did not respond to the Loddon Herald’s request for his comments on local issues.

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