Battle in Macedon over preselected candidate

AN INTERNAL battle over the preselection of the Labor candidate in the state seat of Macedon is continuing, with local party members circulating a petition in the hope of changing the decision.

New candidate Mary-Anne Thomas was recently picked to stand for Labor in the seat at November’s election, prompting criticism from local members who preferred her opponent Christian Zahra.

The endorsement of Ms Thomas by the Public Office Selection Committee came after 81 per cent of the Daylesford Labor branch backed Mr Zahra.

Daylesford Labor branch president John Goullet said there would be some high-level support for the petition, which is calling on Ms Thomas to resign or Labor state head office to annul the decision. 

“The preselected nominee has no local knowledge of the electorate, no local profile and no local involvement in the community,” the petition said.

Ballarat MP Catherine King and former prime minister Paul Keating both formally endorsed Mr Zahra for the candidacy. 

Mr Goullet said Ms Thomas did not have enough local support to win Macedon at the next election, despite the current margin of 2.3 per cent in favour of Labor. 

“She won’t have the support of the members of the party in the electorate and she’ll have no workers. It’ll have a widespread effect on the campaign itself,” he said.

Mr Goullet said he anticipated the petition would get the signatures of around 140 local members, before being presented to the state and national executives next week.

Ms Thomas said she had been endorsed according to the rules of the Labor party and remained committed to the seat of Macedon.

“’I’m moving to Kyneton in a fortnight and looking forward to campaigning with Labor members and supporters across the electorate.”

tom.cowie@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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