POLITICAL uncertainty in Canberra that could result in a snap election being called in coming days has exposed shortcomings in the preparedness of conservative parties in the Bendigo electorate.
Labor and the Greens say they are prepared for a snap federal election, should one be called, but the most recent Liberal candidate who ran in Bendigo has confirmed she won’t stand again, and a Nationals candidate already campaigning for the state poll has ruled herself out.
Embroiled in this week’s leadership challenge, the coalition parties have declined to comment on what preparations are in place in case of an early election.
As Liberal leadership uncertainty continues into today, Maldon businesswoman Megan Purcell, who works in a Canberra ministerial office, told the Bendigo Weekly she would not run again.
“I’m not planning to redo my Bendigo run (but) I have been really proud to see all of the promises I secured for Bendigo actually happen,” Ms Purcell said.
The state Nationals candidate for Bendigo East, Gaelle Broad, said she may be asked to run but was not interested in federal politics and preferred the policy fields covered in state government.
A spokesperson for Victorian Nationals senator Bridget McKenzie, who is the deputy leader of the federal Nationals, said the party was making no comment.
Labor and the Greens were more than happy to talk.
Bendigo MP Lisa Chesters, who holds the seat for Labor, echoed the call of her deputy leader Tanya Plibersek in challenging the government to call an early election.
“I would welcome an early election,” Ms Chesters said in Canberra.
As the leadership of the Coalition government consumed the attention of politicians at Parliament House yesterday morning, Ms Chesters said she attended a rally in support of cleaners who had lost their jobs at the Commonwealth Department of Jobs and Small Business.
“Only some have kept their job with the contractor,” Ms Chesters said.
“This government is doing nothing about the fundamental issues that need to be changed.”
Before MPs voted to adjourn parliament at question time yesterday, Ms Plibersek said the only option was to call an election.
“We are witnessing history being made today, because this house divided cannot stand, and given that we know that this house divided cannot stand, the only solution, the only solution, is for whoever the prime minister is right now to drive out to the governor-general and let the people of Australia decide,” she said.
“Let the people of Australia decided whether they want a government focused only on itself.”
A spokesperson for the local branch of the Australian Greens said the party had taken nominations for preselection and was advanced in deciding on a candidate.
In 2016, Bendigo teacher Rosemary Glaisher campaigned for the Greens.
ABC election analyst Anthony Green reported this week Labor would have a clear advantage if incumbent prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, or his successor, were to call an early election.
Mr Green cites the Liberal’s fundraising shortfall challenges and Labor’s preparedness in case the government called an election had it won either the Braddon or Longman by-elections on July 28. Labor won both, and the coalition’s poor primary vote in Longman triggered the government’s current leadership turmoil.
– Sharon Kemp