By ANEEKA SIMONIS AND ALANA MITCHELSON
AUSTRALIA’S record eight-week election campaign threatens the Liberal government’s chance at a second term, warned McMillan MP Russell Broadbent.
The Liberal veteran said the early election was “suicidal” for the government and that it will hurt its chance at re-election.
Labor candidate Chris Buckingham said the length and timing of the 2 July election will only support his campaign.
“It’s in my favour. I love campaigning and love being amongst it,” he said, claiming the early election was an act of Liberal “self-interest” rather than “setting the agenda for the country”.
Mr Buckingham pointed out the eight-week slog will affect local businesses.
“There will be a lot of small business operators in Pakenham who will be frustrated with the length and timing on the campaign,” he said.
“When an election is called, retail spending drops, consumer confidence drops and jobs are impacted,” he said.
Mr Broadbent said a re-elected Liberal Government will help support the intense growth experienced in his federal electorate, focussing on road infrastructure, education and support for farmers.
Angling for Mr Broadbent’s 10-year hold on the region, Mr Buckingham also vows to channel his campaigning efforts into improving road and public transport infrastructure in the region in addition to health funding.
For La Trobe candidates Simon Curtis (ALP) and Jason Wood (Liberal), education, roads and mental health services will be the key election issues.
“The issue people have come to me most often about is the crippling traffic locally in La Trobe and the horrendous commute into the CBD they face every day,” Mr Wood said.
“I’m also focussing on supporting the arts and our local tourism industry to boost jobs and growth through the $10 million funded for Bunjil Place and delivering the La Trobe History and Tourism Package.
“I came up with the novel idea which includes the restoration of the iconic old Melbourne Red Rattlers which will bring international tourists in from the CBD to Puffing Billy and the villages of Mt Dandenong Walk.”
Being a local teacher and long-time Berwick resident, Mr Curtis said he was well placed to deliver on the needs of the local community.
“I’m committed to improving our education system, keeping Medicare accessible to everyone, making housing more affordable for first home buyers and delivering much needed infrastructure to our growing area,” he said.
“As a growing area we need a strong local health system.
“I’ll fight to protect Medicare and ensure that our health system, including mental health, has the funding it needs to make sure that everyone is looked after.
“I’ll also be working to deliver on much needed infrastructure for our growing area.”
Though Mr Broadbent fears the election timing decision may have a dire impact on the government, he said the Liberals won’t go down without a fight.
“We will work through it as best we can,” he said.
“All of my attention will be on local issues.
“They are most important to me and that’s where I have been successful in the past.”