Haven's Russell McKenzie nominates for Nationals pre-selection

HAVEN resident Russell McKenzie is the first candidate to put his hat in the ring for Nationals pre-selection for the seat of Lowan.

It comes after sitting member Hugh Delahunty announced on February 9 he would retire at this year's state election.

Mr McKenzie, 52, said his experience with the Victorian Farmers Federation and The Nationals made him a good candidate for the seat.

"I've had a fair bit of experience in the agricultural politics field and with the National Party and I've got a few skills to bring to the job," he said.

"I've been around a while 30-odd years with the VFF so I've had a lot of experience there.

"I've been in the National Party for almost 10 years and you get to know people in the electorate and know how the political process works."

The Liberal Party last week confirmed it would not run a candidate for the electorate.

Mr McKenzie said the experience he had gained from his unsuccessful pre-selection attempt for the federal seat of Mallee last year would help him this time around.

"Every time you get a bit better at it. It was a very good learning curve, a valuable process," he said.

Mr McKenzie was also one of 11 candidates in the 2012 Horsham Rural City Council election.

He said his ability to condense issues into simpler terms through effective communication was one of the main skills that made him suitable for the job.

"I can communicate reasonably well, break complex matters down into easy to listen to sentences sound bites if you like," he said.

Mr McKenzie said issues such as transport, deregulation and education would be his focus if he were to gain a seat in state parliament in November.

"Our roads are pretty bad and also the influx of red tape into people's lives, so I'll try and break that down so people can operate more efficiently," he said.

"Transport as a whole is an issue. The railways aren't that good. Some of the tracks are pretty bad. We've got a lot of produce that needs to get to ports."

The tipper driver and seasonal woolclasser said becoming an elected representative had been a consideration for him for some time and the opportunity to hold a safe seat was too good to pass up.

"It's something that's interested me for a long time and now the opportunity has arisen and these opportunities don't come around very often," he said.

Mr McKenze rejected the idea Lowan's safe status would see it ignored in favour of marginal electorates if the Coaltion was successful at November's election.

"That's a bit of myth. That's more an ALP sort of a thing, I'd like to think," Mr McKenzie said.

"The Coaltion is a bit better than that. It's more about funding on merit than electoral needs.

"Mallee was a good case in point. During John Forrest's time, the spend was comparable to other marginal electorates."

Nationals pre-selection closes on February 28. About 170 party members are eligible to vote if more than one candidate nominates.

Mr McKenzie said he had heard other candidates would nominate for pre-selection but was unable to comment further.

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