• Loddon Herald

'The Ghost' and Dr Webster not at forum

MONDAY night’s Loddon forum for Mallee candidates has seen hundreds of voters engage with political hopefuls.

Five candidates sat in Loddon Shire Council’s Wedderburn chambers for two hours making their pitch and taking questions on local issues and national policy ahead of the May 21 election.

The Loddon Herald organised forum had both a live and online audience and the event video has since had more than 300 views.

Candidates at the forum were Sophie Baldwin (independent), Claudia Haenel (independent), Chris Lahy (Australia Citizens’ Party), Sam McColl (Greens) and Stuart King (United Australia Party). Labor’s Carole Hart had accepted but had been knocked out by COVID.

The Loddon Herald had been unable to contact One Nation candidate Vanessa Atkinson, who has been a described as one of the party’s “ghost candidates”. She is believed to live in Queensland and there has been no response from the party’s head office to inquiries during the campaign.

Sitting MP Anne Webster declined the forum invitation.

Dr Webster’s office said: ““She very much appreciates the invitation, unfortunately she has long-standing commitments else-where in the electorate of Mallee on Monday including a ministerial visit. As much as she would like the opportunity to speak at each of the 12 councils/shires in the electorate of Mallee time and distance is very much a factor and she has been very fortunate to be available to attend several such forums that she has previously been invited to participate in.”

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