LOCAL Labor branch president Roger Lucas has labelled Angus Taylor’s unofficial campaign a ‘luxury’ and remains confident his party can capture the seat of Hume at the next federal election.
Mr Lucas said Labor had shortlisted three candidates for the yet-to-be called election, all of whom live in the Hume electorate and are capable of winning the ‘safe’ Liberal seat.
The Labor Party is expected to announce its candidate in February of next year, some nine months after the Liberals declared Angus Taylor their preferred option to take the reins from the retiring Alby Schultz.
Mr Taylor on Saturday opened his Auburn Street campaign office in the presence of around 50 Liberal Party faithful and by the side of Opposition Spokesman for Immigration, Scott Morrison. The opening follows months of television, radio and print advertising.
“The Coalition is aiming to hit the ground running across all seats including Hume,” Mr Taylor told attendants.
Although the Liberals are well into their campaign and have held the seat continuously since 1998, their lead is not insurmountable, Mr Lucas says.
“I think we’ve got a big chance of picking up Hume,” Mr Lucas said.
“We certainly have two definite candidates and a third, a woman, who’s keen.”
Mr Lucas didn’t begrudge Mr Taylor the opening of a campaign office, potentially more than a year out from the poll.
“It’s a luxury that lots of rural Labor branches and candidates don’t have,” he said.
“I can understand what they (Liberal Party) are doing. It’s all about candidate recognition.”
The Labor Party will not repeat its ploy from the 2011 state election, when it put forward a Sydney-based university student who spent little time in the electorate.
Labor Party hierarchy from Sydney visited the region on October 29 to speak with the three potential candidates – one from Goulburn and two from the Yass area.
Mr Lucas believes the quality of potential candidates and state-of-play politically will turn the tables in Labor’s favour.
“We always fight to win,” he said.
“Alby has a personal following that may not necessarily flow on to Angus.
The poor performance of the state government will help us.
“Federally, it’s about policies, and we know the Coalition doesn’t have any.
Locally it’s about a candidate who’s interested in more than their personal career.”
Robin Saville, the Labor Party’s candidate at the 2010 election and a current councillor, has previously ruled out a return to federal politics in the short term.
He maintained that stance on Monday.
“I’ve said before I won’t run, so it’s definitely a no.”
Mr Lucas denied federal Senator Ursula Stephens and Goulburn Mulwaree council candidate Jason Shepherd were among those on the party’s shortlist.
While ever Labor holds off announcing a candidate, Mr Taylor will absorb the campaign attention on his own.
Despite a lack of opposition, Mr Taylor says he isn’t complacent.
“I am trying to take over from Alby Schultz, but I am not taking anything for granted,” he said.
“A few people have queried why I would open a campaign office prior to the federal election campaign officially kicking off.
“The next federal election is not scheduled until the second half of next year.
However we simply don’t know when it will happen. It may be that we get an election in the early part of next year.”