Election race off and running

Labor’s Kristy McBain will be striving to retain the seat of Eden-Monaro at the May 21 election.

The nation’s eyes will again be on the seat of Eden-Monaro in the leadup to the Federal Election on May 21.

The ultra-marginal seat is being targeted by the Coalition as a potential gain in NSW, but incumbent Labor member and former Bega mayor, Kristy McBain, will be difficult to unseat.

She claimed the seat with a wafer-thin margin of 0.9 per cent at a by-election in 2020. Once regarded as a bellwether seat, it’s bucked that trend at the last two elections, going firstly to Mike Kelly at the 2019 election, prior to his retirement.

Ms McBain had a head-start on her rival, with the Liberal Party’s well-publicised pre-selection woes meaning Mr Nockles was announced as the candidate only last week.

A former navy seaman and Pharmacy Guild of Australia executive, Mr Nockles is from Queanbeyan.

Ms McBain said she had been in the job for about 20 months now and travelled over 90,000kms speaking to communities, to businesses, industry and volunteers from all parts of Eden-Monaro.

“I’m an Eden-Monaro local; I grew up here and I’m raising my kids here,” she said.

“I know how important it is for our regional communities to have a voice in Canberra, which is why I work hard to visit as many towns and villages as possible to hear what would make a difference to them.”

She said that now that the election has been called, residents will be able to make up their own minds about who best represents them.

“That’s why I’ve already made an election commitment to improve telecommunications across our area, including better NBN, $1 million to improve blackspots on the Snowy Mountains Highway and $500,000 to improve mobile coverage in Talbingo,” she said.

“It’s also why I’m proud of the way Labor is focusing on the issues that will make a difference to everyday Australians. We’ve committed to making child care cheaper, dealing with the crisis in aged care and bringing manufacturing back to Australia so we can make more things here and be more self-sufficient as a nation.”

Mr Nockles, meantime, was in Tumut last week to meet with the council.

Grants, the role of local government and Hume Link were on the discussion agenda as he met with SVC CEO Matthew Hyde and the councillors, including Mayor Ian Chaffey and Deputy Mayor Trina Thomson.

“We were there to have a yarn with the candidate for the upcoming federal election,” Mayor Chaffey said.

“We made inquiries about how he saw the role of local government in federal government.

“We talked about how both state and federal government rely on local government to deliver their policies and as such funding of local government should take this into account. One issue we discussed with him was FAGS grants (Federal Assistance Grants). They started at two per cent, and now they are down to about 0.68 per cent, and this has a major impact on council finances.” 

He said Mr Nockles had told those gathered that there were funding options in the budget for roads and pre-paying FAGs grants.

“He didn’t promise anything; it was more about a conduit to establishing a relationship,” Cr Chaffey said.

Not surprisingly, Transgrid’s Hume Link project was discussed.

“We said there needs to be a realisation that the main beneficiaries of Hume Link are those in the major metropolitan areas and the main impact is on people in rural areas,” Cr Chaffey said.

“There has to be a conversation about the impact this infrastructure puts on rural communities as opposed to those in cities. Urban dwellers have got to realise rural communities will suffer these impacts, not to ignore that all electricity users will benefit. Parts of our region are going to look like a bird cage, and land use will be restricted.”

While parties and independents can still nominate, several minor parties have already thrown their hats in the ring.

None are from this side of the mountains.

Vivian Harris, a long-time climate activitst who has lived in the Bega Valley for the past four years, is The Greens candidate.

Toni McLennan, a former public servant, is running for the Informed Medical Options Party.

She’s a resident of Queanbeyan and has three university degrees, including a Graduate Diploma of Law, and has owned a number of small businesses, including two cafes and a gift shop.

Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party has a candidate in Darren Garnon, from Ulladulla, who owns a lubricant and oil business out of Queanbeyan.

Independent Andrew Thaler, a Cooma scrap metal recycler, is back, after a previous tilt.

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