Candidates line up for pre-selection

CANDIDATES are lining up for pre-selection following the announcement of Member for Mallee John Forrest's retirement at the federal election in September.

At least four people have put up their hand for the Nationals, three for the Liberal Party and one for the Australian Labor Party.

Swan Hill Rural City Council Deputy Mayor and Nationals member Greg Cruickshank has announced he will seek pre-selection for the Nationals.

Cr Cruickshank has been involved in local politics in Swan Hill for 10 years. He said seeking pre-selection was the next step up.

He is involved in the Murray Regional Tourism Board and the Regional Development of Australia Lodden Mallee Committee.

"I have a broad view of regional issues and the aspirations of communities," he said.

He said one of the biggest issues affecting regional Victoria was the population shift towards larger centres.

"Regional centres such as Horsham, Mildura and Swan Hill are growing in population, but it is declining out in the rural areas," he said.

"These people in smaller towns still need access to services such as transport, telecommunications, health and education and everyone has a basic right to these services."

He said John Forrest would leave big shoes to fill.

"There are a number of people who are putting their hand up for pre-selection and this is a strong indication that the people of the Mallee will be in good hands no matter who wins."

Haven resident and ex-farmer Russell McKenzie will also seek pre-selection for the Nationals.

He said it was something he had always been interested in and it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. "We have only had three members since 1949, so I'd like to have a go to be the fourth," he said.

"There are so many issues that need addressing from the town hall in Horsham to the hospital in Mildura.

"We need more transport, our roads aren't that flash and it is hard to attract people to the area with these problems."

Mr McKenzie has been involved with the Victorian Farmers Federation, AWB and Primary Skills Victoria.

"I have a mix of experience, I'm used to working hard, doing long hours and representing people," he said.

Buloke Shire Mayor Reid Mather and farmer Andrew Broad are also seeking pre-selection for the Nationals.

Liberal Party Mallee Electorate chairman John Bade said he knew of at least three people seeking Liberal Party pre-selection.

He said he could not release their names until the party officially called for nominations.

He said the electorate committee was awaiting word from Liberal Party headquarters on when it could call for nominations.

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