THE race is on to be the next Member for Lowan, with Horsham football administrator Bruce Petering declaring his intention to nominate for Nationals pre-selection.
Mr Petering works for AFL Victoria as the Wimmera football development manager, and pointed to this week’s merger between Natimuk and Horsham United football netball clubs as an example of how his experience could be used in politics.
“Politics is something I’ve been interested in for a really long time,” he said.
“With Hugh Delahunty retiring and my three children finishing school, it’s perfect timing.”
If elected to State Parliament he said fighting to keep Lowan at the forefront of the agenda would be his main focus.
“The over-riding thing that I get fired up about is the lack of recognition that rural and regional Victoria gets,” he said.
Mr Petering has been a Nationals member for two to three months.
He said he would fight to make sure the safe seat was not forgotten in favour of marginal seats.
“It really comes down to the person who is elected working hard – going to see people and being tenacious about the issues we’ve got and continually pushing them forward,” he said.
“At the end of the day you’re judged on what you’ve achieved and how you act.”
The Nationals state director Jenny Hammett would not reveal who else had entered the race, but did suggest more candidates would put their names forward before nominations closed next Friday.
“I’m confident we’ll have a strong field,” she said.
The Nationals’ Member for Western Victoria David O’Brien has been touted for a potential switch to the Lower House and is yet to rule himself out of the race for Lowan.
“At this stage I’m standing for the seat of Western Victoria,” he said.
“I don’t really like to do a running commentary on pre-selection.
"The role I have in the Upper House and my contribution is a role I’ve really enjoyed.”
He said he would release a formal statement regarding Lowan in the near future, but encouraged all interested people to nominate and not let their decision to run be influenced by his potential candidacy.
Country Alliance Party spokesman Garry Kerr said he expected the Nationals to pre-select Mr O’Brien.
He wants his party to offer voters another conservative choice in Lowan, following the Liberal Party’s decision not to contest the vacancy.
“We want to make them realise they can’t take us for granted,” he said.
“The Country Alliance is a conservative party, we’re middle of the road.
"We’re concerned with fishing, hunting, rodeos, forestry, farmers and emergency and health services – and we’re hoping to run a strong candidate in Lowan.”
Mr Kerr visited Horsham on Tuesday while touring western Victoria.
He believes many Lowan residents are concerned there is a sense of apathy associated with the safe seat.
“We want to run candidates in all seats for the election,” he said.
“The goal is to get enough votes to get me into the Upper House.
"If I get in, I’m not part of the party machine.
"I’ll be able to jump up and down and be a voice for western Victoria.”