Three’s a crowd

Throwing her hat in the ring: Latrobe City Councillor Sharon Gibson is running for the seat of Morwell. photographs liam durkin



COUNCIL meetings just got a whole lot more interesting.
Latrobe City Councillor Sharon Gibson is the latest candidate for the seat of Morwell.
Ms Gibson announced she was running as an Independent on Friday.
The former mayor is the third Latrobe City Councillor to put their hand up, following Liberal candidate Dale Harriman and fellow Independent Tracie Lund.
The race to Morwell now involves the three councillors, as well as Dr Kate Maxfield (Labor), Martin Cameron (Nationals) and Rochelle Hine (Greens).
Ms Gibson launched her campaign outside Yallourn Power Station, where she was joined by supporters and Freedom Party member Greg Hansford, who is running for a seat in the Upper House.
Supporters wore purple caps with the words ‘I’m going for Gibbo’ sprawled across the front.
The colour purple was an important feature for Ms Gibson. She wore a purple dress, white jacket and green necklace for the occasion, colours all synonymous with the Suffragette movement of the early 20th century.

Go Gibbo: Locals show their support for the Independent candidate.

Speaking from the barbecue area of the power station offered an appropriate backdrop for Ms Gibson, who said the community was at the forefront of her decision to run.
“I want things better, that is why I am standing,” she said.
“When Moe moved into the seat of Morwell, the major towns of the Latrobe Valley were finally unified in one seat. Now, we can send a unified voice to Spring Street.
“The Valley has powered Victoria for almost 100 years with our resources and the skills and hard work of our people. We want, need and deserve real jobs in new industries right here, right now.
“I am sick and tired of these broken promises from different Prime Ministers, Premiers, Senators, Ministers, we’ve had that many damn committees, and for what? What have we achieved? Where are the long-term secure jobs here? We haven’t got it.
“Where is the transformed economy they have all promised?
“Back in 2016, 2011, if you keep going back, the unemployment was high and they were going to fix the world… hello, Morwell is over 15 per cent (unemployment), Moe/Newborough is over nine, Traralgon is over five, what about the smaller towns? It is wrong.”

Got my vote: Sharon Gibson and husband Glen at last Friday’s announcement.

When asked what sparked a decision to run, Ms Gibson said recent events surrounding key Latrobe Valley industries were ultimately the last straw.
“It really tipped the edge with the announcement with the three power stations,” she said.
“Is it locked in that it is 2035 (for Loy Yang A)? Are any of them going to be earlier? It seems like it is a changing date at times, so enough, just enough, I’m just sick and tired of the games being played with our future.
“You either put up or shut up… and that is what I am doing.”
Running as an independent, and with her 14-year career as a councillor, Ms Gibson believed she was a voice local people could trust.
“People know I care, I tell the truth, and I’m as good as my word,” she said.
“I have been a Latrobe City Councillor since 2008 and mayor twice… I am aware of how governments work.
“Before then, I volunteered to represent my community by restarting the Moe Traders Association – helping small business and forming the Merton Ward Residents Association”
“I’m not with any of the parties, because they haven’t delivered.
“They (major parties) have promised us the world, especially election time… and where are we?
“All that money and what have we got to show for it?”

Dynamic duo: Freedom Party Victoria candidate for Eastern Victoria Greg Hansford and Sharon Gibson are working together in the lead-up to the election.

Standing as an Independent may well be appropriate for Ms Gibson.
Those who know her will attest to the fact she is a true one-of-a-kind, while the candidate herself said she wouldn’t be splashing her face across corflutes in the lead up to election day.
While Mr Cameron appears the frontrunner at this stage, there can be little doubt Ms Gibson will rattle a few cages along the way regardless of how votes fall.
As they say, ‘you have to crack a few eggs to make an omelette’.
Ms Gibson had this to say when asked if connotations surrounding her being a firebrand meant she had the temperament to stand as the local member.
“I stand up for the community, if that is different then go right ahead,” she said.
“If you want something changed, you don’t keep doing the same thing and expect a different result.
“I’m not going to back down, our community is too important.
“That is why I want a think-tank. It is not my voice, it’s not a party or a backer’s … it is the community, this is where we live, this is our life.
“If it takes me standing up to shake things, and get a better deal for our community… isn’t that what it’s about?
“The people are your boss, you listen to them and you work for them. People forget that; they get into political games, I’m not into that.”
With that, we are now six weeks out from the election, and the Morwell race now has a larger-than-life character, spruiking about local jobs, handing out baseball caps with a slogan on them.
We’ve seen this movie before.