AFTER keeping the electorate guessing for months, local Labor branch president Roger Lucas has confirmed there would be a Labor candidate for Hume by the end of next month.
The ALP administrative committee will meet in February to select a candidate and an announcement will follow shortly after.
Mr Lucas also confirmed that there was a strong frontrunner doing the rounds however it wasn’t Jason Shepherd, who this week pulled out of the race.
The likely candidate is not from Goulburn but the southern end of the electorate. Mr Lucas is giving away few clues, saying only they are male, “heavily involved” in their local community and a long-time resident of Hume.
Mr Shepherd announced his withdrawal on Sunday, saying he would instead focus his attention on local community activism and “keep his powder dry” until he is called upon at a state government level.
The Binda born engineer told the Post there were two strong candidates in the Labor ranks, both of whom had more experience than him.
He recognised that politically, he was still quite young but when it came to state politics he didn’t want to see local Labor voters left without a local candidate again, like they were at the last election.
Mr Shepherd also believed the community needed a strong advocate in Macquarie St and that Goulburn was only bearing the brunt of government cost cutting because it saw it as a safe seat, an area where they could strip jobs and resources to balance the books and gain electoral votes elsewhere.
He was not opposed to fiscal conservatism but believed in order to achieve it you needed to have your priorities straight. For the current government, those priorities were Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong.
“You need to live within your means and I think there is merit in budget control but you don’t do it by stripping jobs out of regional areas which create wealth,” he said.
“I believe in looking after those who are doing it hard and making sure we all get a boost in life. I know in my life I received a boost and became the man I am today by the helping hand of others… “I am a member of Country Labor. We have more in common with the Nationals than the Liberals. The one thing us country boys and girls have in common is we want to help and do the best for all that we can.
We all hook in when times get tough. Of course we disagree on point to point but we are country and (people from the city) will never understand us or care what we need.”
Mr Shepherd wished all of the Hume candidates the best in their endeavours, including Angus Taylor and the independents, and hoped they all ran good a clean race, free of negativity. He believed politics was already too divisive.
“We’re all Australians and we need to find some common ground,” he said.
“All this bulldust about hammering the other side (of politics) just because they are on the other side needs to stop.
Politicians are there to do a job. People don’t respect it and it’s not what they’re there for. There needs to be some commonsense bought back into it.”
He also hoped that people would put the last three years of federal politics into context before they voted, saying that the reason minority parties had such a large say was due to the division of electoral votes.
He believed if the independents had sided with the Coalition there still would have been tensions within the decision making process. The difference would have been an earlier election because they wouldn’t have been able to keep it together.
Mr Lucas thought Mr Shepherd made the right decision, saying he was extremely talented and would make an excellent candidate and MP one day, however he needed to gain a bit more experience first.
Mr Lucas said his business credentials, coupled with his country sensibility and commitment to the community made him an asset to the local Labor Branch.