Ms Malcolm says many people would rather the seat of Euroa was a marginal seat so it would attract more attention and funding.LIBBY PRICE August 28, 2014 4:00am
A phone call to The Ensign alerted us to a visit to Benalla by the ALP’s endorsed candidate for Euroa, 42-year-old Clare Malcolm, who’ll be in the three-cornered contest for the seat in November’s state election against the Nationals’ Steph Ryan and the Liberals’ Tony Schneider. The Ensign interrupted her ‘meet and greet’ at the Benalla market on Saturday to ask why locals should vote Labor in a safe conservative seat.
What kind of feedback do you get in Benalla?
Really positive feedback. I was surprised. I’d anticipated this to be very anti-Labor and I haven’t experienced that at all. People are warm and friendly as you’d expect country folk to be.
There’s a lot of feedback, a lot of backlash to the Federal Government, and one of the other major issues that people are coming up to me (about) is rail services up here and the lack of services, lack of reliability of services, so that’s a big issue, and jobs, a lot of concern about pending jobs losses out at the munitions factory (Thales) .
Where do you live?
I live in Hidden Valley in Wallan which is right on the border of the electorate. Nice part of the world.
And you’ll stay there if you win?
Yeah, look I’ve already started looking for a couple of properties. I’ve got my eye on a few, I’ve got to convince my husband that we should move. We’re very happy in our current home; but you know, if it was a requirement — but I’m right on the border.
This is considered to be a safe Nationals seat. How confident are you?
My view on that is that it is notionally National as it’s obviously chunks and bits and pieces of a number of the other seats that have come together. There’s no incumbent, so notionally, yes, it’s on about 13.8 per cent — but I think there’s a lot of issues at play here. I think the southern part of the electorate, which is half the population if you like — the old seat of Seymour — was held by Labor up until the last election and we’ve won the seat of Benalla before when Denise Allen won it in 2002.
So I don’t think it’s insurmountable, I think it’s going to be a hard fight, it’s going to be a big fight, but people are saying they want to be a marginal seat, they want to see Euroa become a marginal seat so that it starts to attract the attention. So I think that could play very well in terms of turning it into a marginal seat; and whether I can win, whether I can get more than 13.8 per cent — I don’t know, but I’m giving it my best shot.
It’s now a three-cornered contest with the Libs standing against the Nats. That’s worked out well for you, hasn’t it?
Oh, look, ultimately they’ll preference each other. I think they had to do that. I think speaking to Liberal Party members down in the south they weren’t happy to not have a choice. As far as they were concerned their old seat of Seymour had been held by the Liberal Party so I know there was a lot of pressure to come to bear that they should run a candidate, but yeah, look, I mean their preferences will ultimately feed into each other, I don’t know that it will have much of an impact on my campaign. I’m in it to fight to win it outright in my own right.
What would you say to those who are swinging voters? Because they’re the ones you’ve got to get; you’re not going to get the deeply conservative ones.
I think that if you’re a swinging voter I think you’ll want to look really hard. Do you want to remain safe National Party territory or do you want to be a marginal seat that’s going to attract the attention, the sort of funding commitments and the sort of focus that marginal seats get? So I’d be saying, if you’re a swinging voter, think long and hard if you want to be caught up in a wave of overwhelming National party territory. I don’t think people want that. I think they want to be a marginal seat.
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