AFTER months of rumour, speculation and intrigue from the local Labor Branch, it would appear Hume’s biggest game of ‘Guess Who?’ could be drawing to an end.
President Roger Lucas has confirmed to the Post that Labor has a candidate for Hume and is waiting for head office to sign off on “him”.
“The Labor Party branches within the Hume Federal Electorate Council have met, we’ve selected a candidate and we’ve forwarded his name to the NSW Branch asking he be endorsed,” Mr Lucas said.
“Labor’s administrative committee will meet in the first week of March and an announcement will be made shortly thereafter.”
When local branches called for expressions of interest they received a number of prospective candidates.
However, after months of internal discussions the branches decided to forgo a pre-selection ballot in lieu of nomination.
While Mr Lucas remained tight-lipped about the identity of the mystery man, he said the likely candidate has a strong track record of serving the community and comes from the southern end of the electorate.
“He’s a very capable person and he has a bright future within the Labor Party,” Mr Lucas said.
One name being thrown around is that of new Yass Tribune Labor Lines columnist Michael Pilbrow.
Federal Member for Hume Alby Schultz told the Post sources had led him to believe that Mr Pilbrow was definitely the party’s mystery man.
When asked if the rumours were correct, Mr Lucas said he couldn’t comment any further than he already had.
“We go through a process and as officials there is little we can and can’t say but Alby Schultz would be better off spending some more time looking after his electorate instead of worrying about what the Labor Party is doing,” he replied.
Despite what the description may suggest, Yass Valley councillor/veteran campaigner Michael McManus has ruled himself out as a candidate.
He has contested three state elections, running against both Mr Schultz and Katrina Hodgkinson in the seat of Burrinjuck, but says he definitely won’t be taking a tilt at federal politics this September.
“I’m enjoying being a councillor at Yass Valley and continuing work with Transgrid. I will not be the candidate for Hume at this election,” he said.
He will be heavily involved in the campaign, however and believes his party has a real shot regaining the seat, which it last held in 1974.
“The candidate we have is widely connected across the electorate and has worked with communities across Hume…” Mr McManus said.
“We are going through the correct process and we will have a candidate up and running well before the election in September. We’ve had quite a lot of interest in Hume; as a result Labor will be fielding a very competitive candidate and mounting a very competitive campaign.
“Hume has been without a Labor member for quite some time and we’ll be campaigning to try and win it back.”
Mr Pilbrow was not available for comment before the time of publication.
Where are the Greens?
DESPITE being the major third party force in the federal political arena - some may argue the last of the true left - the Greens do not have a candidate for Hume.
Goulburn Branch president Jan Green told the Post that the pre-selection process would begin next week, when nominations were officially opened across the region.
Hume encompasses four local branches – Goulburn, Burrinjuck, McArthur and the Southern Highlands – all of which will meet at the McDermott Centre this weekend.
When the groups met eight weeks ago - before the announcement of the September 14 election date – they had agreed to try to get a candidate nominated by early May. However, with a date now confirmed a new battle plan may be on the agenda.
“We need to talk about that.
We might well decide to push (pre-selections) forward a bit…” Mrs Green said.
“We will definitely be running a candidate.”