John Forrest warns Coalition could lose

MEMBER for Mallee John Forrest doubts whether a Liberal-Nationals Coalition will form government when Wimmera residents go to the polls on September 14.

Mr Forrest, a Nationals member, described himself as a seasoned campaigner as he seeks re-election to the seat of Mallee for an eighth time.

"The only thing I am not super confident on is winning enough seats to form government," he said.

"I am not complacent about Mallee - never have been - and I will be continuing to do what I have been doing.

"I will be trying my best to earn the confidence of people in the Mallee electorate, which is an area bigger than Tasmania.

"I will be in people's lounge rooms and kitchens trying to do what I can for them."

Mr Forrest said the biggest issue facing his electorate was ensuring that Australia's regional areas obtained a fair go.

"We have been the poor cousin under the current government because the telecommunications and regional development programs we had have all been scuttled,'' he said.

"From the Nationals' point of view we want to restore the regard which regional areas deserve."

Both Mr Forrest and Member for Wannon Dan Tehan criticised Prime Minister Julia Gillard's choice of election date by saying Australians should be heading to the polls sooner.

"The nation's confidence is haemorrhaging under this Labor government," Mr Forrest said.

"The Prime Minister will be promising everything including the kitchen sink in the interim."

Mr Tehan, a Liberal member, said the Prime Minister's election announcement was simply a ploy.

"There had been speculation that Kevin Rudd was going to make another challenge so I think this was another ploy by her to protect her job," he said.

"I would have preferred to see us not have to wait 32 weeks for an election."

Mr Forrest and Mr Tehan will both face a different electorate at the polls after the Australian Electoral Commission changed boundaries in December 2010.

Mallee now includes all of Northern Grampians Shire and Wannon has gained the Central Goldfields town of Maryborough see map, page 3.

Mr Tehan said the change would make the election campaign more difficult.

"For me, it means I have larger distances to drive so I am going to have to work that little bit harder," he said.

"I have an electorate of 32,000 square kilometres and 300 communities and I will be working very hard to represent them between now and election day."

* The Australian Electoral Commission has encouraged Wimmera residents to enrol to vote in the September election.

For an editorial by chief sub-editor Keith Lockwood, click here.

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