The aspirants for the job of the National Party’s Mallee candidate will head to Horsham on Wednesday.
The party will host its third in a series of forums with rank-and-file members ahead of officially selecting its candidate in Birchip on Saturday.
The six candidates are:
- Toby Heil of Irymple
- Bernadette Hogan of Birchip
- Daniel Linklater of Gol Gol (NSW)
- Paul Matheson of Mildura
- Shane McGrath of Horsham
- Anne Webster of Cabarita
Former Member for Lowan Hugh Delahunty will emcee the day, which he says will see the candidates talk about themselves and answer questions, before members have the opportunity to chat with the candidates informally.
“It’s right in the middle of holidays for a lot of people, so we’ve already had a few apologies, but we anticipate 40 or people turning up,” he said.
“They could be asked any questions – whether it be about health, roads, agricultural research … I think the questions to some of them will be whether they understand the electorate, particularly the southern part.
“One of the candidates lives down here, another in Birchip and the other four further north, so just getting to understand what they know about the southern part of the electorate and how they will link with the people (is important), because whoever it is will have to work out of Mildura or Swan Hill.”
Mr Delahunty said an understanding of the differences between the three levels of government was crucial for anyone hoping to be the Nationals’ candidate for Mallee, drawing on his experience working with past Member for Mallee John Forrest.
“At the end of the day, the electorate is not 100 per cent sure what each level plays, so I think having a good working relationship with your state member and local councils (is important).
“I did a lot of work with John where we would do town visits together to explain communications and mobile phone coverage.
“That’s a federal issue, (whereas) health and education predominantly come under the state and federal portfolio but we do need funding from the federal government.”
The final candidate meet-and-greet is at St Arnaud on Thursday.
Mr Delahunty said he expected outgoing Mallee member Andrew Broad to attend Saturday’s official candidate selection meeting.
“I’m not sure if Andrew will be mentioned in person (during the meet and greets), but I think most people realise he did a great job representing our electorate, got around and worked the largest electorate in the state very well,” he said.
“Obviously we are all disappointed with what has happened, but we need to move on.”
State Party director Matthew Harris said there were about 200 paying National Party members in the Horsham area – about the same as the number in Mildura.