Ballarat’s position as a safe seat for the Labor Party means it gets less attention from both parties’ national headquarters, says the Nationals’ candidate for Ballarat Paul Tatchell.
Member for Ballarat Catherine King is sitting on a margin of 4.9 per cent from the 2013, but this was in a national rout of Labor.
In that election she lost 6.8 per cent of the two-party-preferred vote after gaining almost four per cent in the knife’s-edge 2010 vote.
This time, for the first election in almost 30 years, the National Party backed a candidate.
When Mr Tatchell – a well known Moorabool Shire councillor – announced, he said he wanted to make Ballarat a marginal seat again.
After weeks of campaigning he still says this is the case.
“That was always the intent. The problem with the seat was that it was a safe seat,” he said.
Mr Tatchell said there was a clear link between Ballarat’s safe status and the lack of funding commitments.
“(If it was marginal) we would be getting the same announcements as Corangamite, Bendigo, Murray, Townsville, or Western Sydney,” he said.
Townsville, notably, received an extraordinary $100 million funding pledge from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to build a stadium.
In Murray, where it is a race between the Coalition partners, the government has pledged $97 million for a new Echuca-Moama bridge.
Mr Tatchell hit out at how projects get funded in general but said it was unreasonable to direct money where votes were needed.
“The current system (of funding) is not needs based. It’s based on political pork-barrelling,” he said.
“We need longer terms because of the damage they do every three years, because of this irresponsible spending to get votes.”
Neither Mr Tatchell or Liberal candidate Sarah Wade have promised to fund any major projects in Ballarat so far.
Ms King has promised $5 million for the Ballarat Sports and Events Centre, $2.2 million for Ballan District Health and will pledge $1.5 million for the Parwan Employment District on Saturday.
Mr Tatchell said his call was not just a blatant ask for votes, and denied his candidacy would only serve to funnel votes to the Liberal Party through preferences.
“I’m not in government am I – you join a party hoping to influence for a region. We haven’t had anyone from this region influencing that party before,” he said.
“I’m a member of the National Party representing this area...my focus is on regional Victoria, not the Liberals.”
“We’re members from a different parties. The National Party is completely different.”
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