ALP candidate for Bendigo Lisa Chesters and Liberal candidate Greg Bickley have begun their fight for the seat of Bendigo.
In a surprise announcement yesterday, Prime Minister Julia Gillard revealed the election would be held on September 14.
Mr Bickley lists cost of living pressures, health, education, small business confidence and the carbon tax as his top issues, while Ms Chesters says jobs, regional development, industrial relations, education and health are her main concerns.
Mr Bickley, who was recently given odds of $5.50 to win the seat, said he had been campaigning since receiving pre-selection in August.
“I’m focused on continuing to run a strong local campaign,” he said.
“I’m a local family man, a local businessman. I’m out in our community every day and I will continue to work for a strong central Victoria and Macedon Ranges where success and local achievements are assisted by government and not hindered by taxes and red tape imposed by a centralist government that believes they know best.”
Ms Chesters said jobs would be a key election issue.
“Jobs will be a key issue, ensuring we create jobs and have job security,” she said.
“We need investment for businesses to continue to grow and it’s also about having a Fair Work Act that protects people’s rights.
“I also want to see a world-class health service for all people living in the area.”
She said the government had a “gold star” for delivering investment in areas like regional rail, the NBN and the arts.
“Those are the projects that put Bendigo on the map for the future and will continue to see Bendigo grow,” she said.
“Cost of living is certainly an issue and we know that for some here in Bendigo and Central Victoria times are tough.
“But it’s only a Labor government that will stand up for them and their families.”
But Mr Bickley said the government’s performance had been very lacking.
“This is a lame duck government,” he said.
“It is divisive, it has actively promoted class warfare and it has done nothing to inspire confidence in the wider community.
“This election will change our generation.
“It will affect our region, our families and our children and central Victoria and the Macedon Ranges deserve strong local representation in the national parliament.”
Both candidates said they would continue meeting and talking to local people in the 32 week lead up to the election.
ALP member Steve Gibbons won the seat of Bendigo with 46.75 per cent of the primary vote in the 2010 election.