Selection committee ruckus could cost Labor Macedon seat

THE head of the Daylesford Labor Party branch says the new Macedon candidate will cost his party the seat at next year’s state election.

Criticising the preselection process, Daylesford ALP branch president John Goullet called for new candidate Mary-Anne Thomas to resign and hand her position to Trentham resident Christian Zahra.

Ms Thomas, who will move to Kyneton in the coming weeks, was this week preselected as the candidate to fill the shoes of outgoing member Joanne Duncan, who had held the seat since 2002.

Her endorsement comes after a Daylesford Labor member vote, in which Mr Zahra secured 81 per cent of the local vote. He also had the formal backing of Ballarat MP Catherine King and former prime minister Paul Keating.

However Ms Thomas was chosen by the Public Office Selection Committee amid a wave of strong metropolitan support.

“It’s going to cost Labor the seat, it has absolutely put the seat in jeopardy,” Mr Goullet said.

“I’ve called for her to resign her candidateship. The decision to install a candidate from Melbourne’s northern suburbs who has no affinity or knowledge of the seat is not only offensive, it makes our case to retain the seat for Labor much harder.” 

Labor currently holds a 2.3 per cent margin in the seat of Macedon, which now encompasses Daylesford and Kyneton after this year’s redistribution.

Ms Thomas, who plans to move to Kyenton from Melbourne in January, said she was very much aware of the sentiment opposed to her among Daylesford party members and admitted she had a lot of hard work ahead.

However, she said she had no intention of standing down from her position.

Ms Thomas is executive manager at Plan International, one of the world’s largest children’s development organisations. 

She began her working life as a teacher, became a union organiser, and has subsequently held senior executive roles in the Department of Premier and Cabinet, the Department of Education and at the NAB.

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