Federal candidates vie for votes

THE lead-up to next month’s federal election will see at least 11 candidates across the electorates of McMillan and Gippsland vying for the votes of locals in their efforts to oust current members of parliament.

In Gippsland, which covers more than 33,000 square kilometres from the New South Wales border in the north-east to Port Albert in the south-west, National Party MP Darren Chester will be challenged by at least four candidates from an independent to the Australian Labor Party, The Greens, Liberal-Democrats and Australian Sex Party. Despite well-known Bairnsdale boxer Will Tomlinson earlier announcing he would run as a Palmer United Party candidate in Gippsland, he has subsequently confirmed he has pulled out of the race in favour of pursuing his boxing career in the United States.

Potential candidates, however, have until noon on 15 August to nominate and it is understood PUP are seeking another candidate.

The Latrobe Valley towns of Morwell, Churchill and Traralgon fall within Gippsland’s boundaries while Moe, Yallourn North and Trafalgar are in McMillan, a seat held by Liberal Party MP Russell Broadbent.

The Gippsland electorate has a long history of conservatism, being held by the Country Party and National Party continuously since 1922.

Mr Chester has held the seat since a 2008 by-election following the retirement of long-time MP Peter McGauran – he has a comfortable margin of more than 11 per cent.

While Gippsland has long been regarded a safe Nationals seat, McMillan – covering parts of Victoria stretching from Pakenham in the west to Moe in the east – is more marginal.

A 2010 redistribution of its boundaries reduced the Liberal Party’s hold in McMillan from 4.4 per cent to 4.2 per cent and though the ALP has held the seat at various stages since the 1980s, it has remained mostly in the hands of conservative parties.

Mr Broadbent is a long-serving MP. He has been elected in McMillan on four occasions and held the neighbouring seat of Corinella in the early 1990s, before it was abolished in 1996.

At the polls on 7 September he will also be challenged by an independent, the ALP, Australian Sex Party and The Greens as well as PUP and Katter’s Australia Party.