Federal election: candidates call in support

CANDIDATES in Ballarat’s federal election will be supported by longtime political players, with state MP for Melton Don Nardella to serve as chair of Catherine King’s re-election effort. 

Liberal candidate John Fitzgibbon said yesterday his campaign chairman would be Ballarat businessman and former state candidate Craig Coltman, while local Greens campaigner Jon Stanger will chair the campaign of Steph Hodgins-May. 

Both Ms King and Mr Fitzgibbon declined to outline other key personnel but both expected to engage volunteers from the community. 

Local businessman Noel Coxall said he had no formal role with the Fitzgibbon campaign, while Mr Fitzgibbon said Liberal patron Senator Michael Ronaldson was providing advice and support. 

With a margin of 11.7 per cent, Ms King said she hoped senior Gillard government ministers would visit the region to open major infrastructure projects before the September 14 election, including the Ballarat Regional Integrated Cancer Centre in April. 

Victorian Greens leader Greg Barber and Ballarat City Councillor and former federal candidate Belinda Coates are assisting Ms Hodgins-May alongside her father, former Hepburn Shire Mayor Rod May. 

“I am also setting up an informal network of friends who want to help out,” she said. 

“Some of them are not at the point of wanting to join a political party but are helping out and spreading word-of-mouth,” she said. 

In December, ALP national secretary George Wright confirmed the party’s election headquarters would be moved to Melbourne, as Labor attempted to distance candidates from corruption controversies involving former NSW minister Eddie Obeid and embattled backbencher Craig Thomson. 

Three of Labor’s 10 most marginal seats are in Victoria, including the nearby electorate of Corangamite where MP Darren Cheeseman is facing Liberal candidate Sarah Henderson. 

Ms Henderson’s partner is Victorian upper house MP Simon Ramsay. 

thomas.mcilroy@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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