A DESIRE to change the lack of government investment in regional communities has sparked former Yarriambiack Shire mayor Ray Kingston’s decision to stand for the seat of Mallee.
Mr Kingston, of Lubeck, announced on Tuesday night he would contest the seat at the federal election next year.
It comes after sitting Member for Mallee Andrew Broad announced he would not re-contest the seat amid sex scandal allegations.
Mr Kingston said his decision to run was not influenced by the events of the past few days, but the need to do better for the electorate.
He said he started seriously exploring the idea of standing about three to four months ago.
“I probably decided two months ago I was going to run,” he said.
“I think the seat looks very safe, but I would argue it's nowhere near as simple as that.
“I’m probably not at the point of my campaign that I'm going to detail the precise outcomes I'm chasing. I feel I really need to engage with Mallee communities to get to that point.
“But there are some things that so obviously need attention, such as health, education, roads, and telecommunications – that's the starting point.
“I know they’re not all strictly federal issues, but to say ‘that’s a state problem’ is not good enough.”
Mr Kingston was elected as a Yarriambiack Shire councillor in 2009 and served until 2016, including a term as mayor.
”It’s obviously not the same as being a federal parliament, but I learned a lot about leadership and advocacy on my time on Yarriambiack Shire,” he said.
“I'd like to think I had a bit to do with some of the positive things we achieved in the shire, the most obvious being the Silo Art Trail, but also helping get the Lighting the Regions project off the ground.
“I think I've got a fairly strong skill set in that space.”
Mr Kingston said he was overwhelmed with the response from the public since he announced his candidacy.
“I wouldn't be running if I didn’t know there were a lot of people out there who feel similar to me,” he said.
“But having people come out so enthusiastically to say that they believe in me is very humbling.
“The next step for me is really about engaging with communities and community groups.
“That's a big task and it will take a couple of months.”
Mr Kingston said clear leadership and regional representation that actively sought consultation and inclusion was crucial.
“I’m proud to live in a vibrant and productive region made up of can do communities. But, I find myself imagining what we’d look like if we actually got our fair share of attention, services and investment,” he said.
“I’m frustrated that our communities are neglected and I'm angry that while our leaders play games in Canberra, the people of Mallee are missing out on real investment.
“The people of Mallee deserve better representation in Canberra through not only a voice that reflects their lives and needs, but someone who is aligned with their views, living and working alongside them.”
Mr Kingston said people could email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or message him through the Ray Kingston Facebook page, or on Twitter @malleeray.