Candidates confident

Kamal Parmar, Kuldip Singh and Jagtar Singh handing out flyers. 280812_01

By Jamie Salter

La Trobe candidates say they are feeling confident as Pakenham and surrounding residents cast their votes early ahead of the federal election on Saturday 21 May.

Representatives from major parties were handing out flyers at the Pakenham Uniting Church Hall on Monday 16 May – and both major players were upbeat about their chances.

Liberal La Trobe candidate Jason Wood said his campaign was on track.

“I thank the locals for their support,“ Mr Wood said.

“Labor is not focused on La Trobe at all. We’ve had a number of really good election commitments including the upgrades on the Monash Freeway, $1 million for Riding for the Disabled Pakenham and $12 million for the Multicultural Hub, which will be a great space for everyone.

“I’m not taking anything for granted but we’re seeing a pretty good response and I congratulate all the parties or their pre-poll behaviour which has been very pleasant and decent.“

ALP candidate Abi Kumar said he was feeling confident to win.

“The campaign is looking good; we’ve had a lot of local support. The Morrison Government has let a lot of people down with the aged care system and the cost of living nowadays,“ Mr Kumar said.

“These issues will be front of centre for our government and Anthony Albanese is someone who gives hope for a better future.

“Labor’s message is strong but if you look at Liberal policies and National policies, they’re completely different and Scott Morrison has zero credibility. Labor will bring back integrity into politics.“

Eastern Victoria MP Harriet Shing, a state ALP Upper House MP, was also present and said there was a “really good mood“ at early voting centres.

“We’re seeing record numbers of people coming out to vote cast early so that will mean the crowds are a little less packed on Saturday,“ Ms Shing said.

“There’s a really positive mood around the announcements Labor has made particularly around tackling the cost of living, wage growth, healthcare and better access to early childhood and development.

“There’s a lot to be said around the importance of a change and that’s what people are looking to see.”

Greens La Trobe candidate Michael Schilling also believed his campaign was progressing well.

“We have a lot of volunteers helping our campaign, we’ve distributed more than 20,000 campaign flyers, and we have the Berwick and Pakenham early voting centres fully covered, with a friendly Greens volunteer handing out our How To Vote card to voters,“ Mr Schilling said.

“Our people are our greatest strength, and our volunteers and I have had some amazing conversations with voters about why they’re voting Greens in this election.

“We’re hoping to grow the Greens vote and it’s never been so important that after this election we get dental into Medicare, we build affordable homes, provide free child care, and tackle the climate crisis.“

The La Trobe electorate is a strong marginal seat – currently held by the Liberal party by a 5.5 per cent margin.

Monash University School of Social Sciences politics and international relations senior lecturer Dr Zareh Ghazarian said the confidence shown from the candidates could be explained.

“Understandably Labor would feel opinion polls are getting them through and that this might be a winnable margin while the Liberal party can be confident that they’ll withstand this,“ Mr Ghazarian said.

“Looking at La Trobe – it’s a newly developed area and the community is interested in issues concerning economy, jobs and housing affordability and the major parties are talking about those issues in the hopes that their plans resonate with voters in their electorates.

“I think generally a seat like 5.5 per cent margin is going to be a battle ground for the parties, so it’s a fairly handy margin.“

Mr Ghazarian said he was expecting opinion polls to show momentum for Labor, but questioned if it will be enough to beat the incumbent Liberal MP Jason Wood.

“If the coalition loses La Trobe then it’s had a really bad election result and if Labor wins it’s an excellent outcome,“ he said.

“I think its going to be a really exciting one to watch on election night.“