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Higgins endorsed for tilt at Shepparton

Rod Higgins will try his luck at this year's Victorian election, running as the Labor candidate for the seat of Shepparton.

JARROD WHITTAKER April 16, 2014 3:38am

Labor candidate Rod Higgins with his dog Brutus.


Lawyer and former Federal Labor candidate Rod Higgins will contest the seat of Shepparton for the ALP at this year’s state election.

Mr Higgins was preselected unopposed and will face The Nationals’ Greg Barr at the November 29 poll.

He said he was contesting the poll to fight for a better share of Victorian Government funding.

‘‘It’s the same old story — they’re so entrenched and they’ve got such a large margin they just ignore us,’’ Mr Higgins said.

‘‘You only have to look at the rail situation — we’re crying out for a better service.’’

He said health and education funding were priorities.

Mr Higgins said regional centres situated in marginal seats received a higher share of government funding.

‘‘Federal marginal seats Bendigo, Ballarat, Corangamite — their funding was well above us,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s exactly the same as the state seats.’’

His comments follow an Essential Economics analysis revealing a marked gap in Victorian Government capital funding.

The report found Shepparton had received $42.5million in capital funding, compared with $1270million and $935.9million for Bendigo and Ballarat, respectively.

Mr Higgins said the government’s defence that it provided significant funding was a ‘‘complete furphy’’ and other regions shared in the same funding.

Following last year’s boundary redistribution, The Nationals have Shepparton with a margin of 25.9 per cent.

Mr Higgins said the margin was huge, but said the retirement of sitting MP Jeanette Powell helped.

‘‘With a long-serving retiring member, it puts us closer to the Nationals,’’ he said.

‘‘We’ll both be starting off in the same boat.’’

Last year’s federal election yielded a 1.3 per cent swing against Labor, but Shepparton booths — where Mr Higgins actively campaigned — recorded a small swing towards the ALP. Mr Higgins said the smaller size of Shepparton made it easier to campaign.

‘‘There were 101 polling places ... we could only manage to man 25,’’ he said.

This year’s state election is shaping up to be tight, with just one seat separating Victorian Labor and the Victorian Coalition before independent MP Geoff Shaw’s resignation from the Liberal Party.

The most recent Victorian Newspoll had Labor in an election-winning position, with 53-47 of the two-party preferred vote.

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