Election nominations begin

WHILE the Australian Labour Party will meet on Thursday to adopt its timeframe for pre-selecting candidates to contest the Federal seats of Gippsland and McMillan in September’s election, independent Leigh Gatt has already thrown his hat in the ring.

Mr Gatt, who contested McMillan in 2010 and secured 2.1 per cent of first preference votes, has again confirmed he will vie for the seat, currently held by Liberal member Russell Broadbent with a margin of 4.9 per cent.

Mr Broadbent who managed a swing toward him of 3.2 per cent at the last election, has been pre-selected unopposed to again contest McMillan. An ALP spokesperson told The Express on Friday the party would contest all Coalition-held seats across Victoria.

Meanwhile Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester, who will seek re-election for the seat he has held since 2008, said the election would provide Gippslanders with “a choice to decide who they trust to deliver strong economic management, jobs growth and national prosperity”.

“Regional areas like Gippsland already make an enormous contribution to the wealth of our nation and we need to receive a fairer share of government funding for key services like transport, health, education, childcare, aged care and the disability sector,” Mr Chester said.

Mr Gatt, a 30 year-old Moe signwriter, said he had been interested in politics since his days as a student representative council member.

He said he had an “open mind about political parties”, having handed out how-to-vote cards for both sides in the past.

Mr Gatt also said he would run on a platform advocating for charity to “start at home”, calling for “tougher laws on refugees” and saying “they need to be sent back home” to enable Australia to address its own homeless and unemployment “crisis”.

He said he would also propose a “suspension on any possible increase in pay” for about 10 years.