Bendigo federal election candidates talk election date and the future of city 

Federal election candidates hope to take the seat of Bendigo away from the ALP for the first time in 15 years. 

Voters will go to the polls on September 7 after Prime Minister Kevin Rudd called an election at the weekend.

Retiring sitting member Steve Gibbons has held the seat of Bendigo since 1998, having won the last five elections. 

He increased his margin with a swing of 3.4 per cent at the 2010 ballot, but seven candidates are now making a bid for the seat. 

Labor candidate for Bendigo Lisa Chesters pointed to the achievements of Labor as a reason for voters to stick with the party. 

“I will be working hard to ensure that Labor retains the seat of Bendigo,” she said. 

“Only by electing a strong Labor voice for Bendigo will we continue to improve the welfare and wellbeing of all. 

“I have the passion and energy to continue the Labor agenda.

“I believe it’s important that Bendigo has a strong Labor representative in Canberra to support central Victorians and continue to build on the many achievements of federal Labor.”

But Liberal candidate for Bendigo Greg Bickley said voters were keen for change. 

“The message from the people of central Victoria and the Macedon Ranges to me is very clear – they want a change of government,” he said. 

“I have been in election mode since I was pre selected last August so I’ll continue to work. 

“And I will do everything in my power to ensure that families and small businesses have their concerns and their aspirations represented by someone who understands them.”

Greens candidate Lachlan Slade said his party was the “only true progressive voice” in the upcoming election. 

“And we’re the only voice that stands to reason and stands for policy over personality,” he said. 

“And we’ve been consistent in doing that.

Mr Slade said he wanted to see increases to welfare starting at $50 a week and a solar farm created in the region, and said his party was the only one with humane asylum seeker policies. 

Former Palmer United Party turned independent candidate Matine Rahmani said he hoped his five-point plan would be popular with voters. 

“It’s a plan based on what people spoke to me about and the issues they wanted to adopt,” he said. 

Mr Rahmani said he would review fair trading laws to help local manufacturers, would improve transport services, create regional hubs to combat job outsourcing, call for a conscience vote on social issues like same sex marriage and euthenasia, and ensure towns south of Bendigo kept a “country lifestyle”. 

Australian Sex Party candidate Charlie Crutchfield, who received pre-selection from the party on Friday, said he hoped to get his name and message out ahead of the election. 

“I want people to have more knowledge of the sex party and what we stand for,” he said. 

“We’re a serious party. We’ve got a lot more than just sex-based policies.” 

Rise Up Australia candidate for Bendigo Sandra Caddy says Australia is losing its wealth by over-selling its assets to foreign buyers.

"Australia now imports 65 per cent of fresh produce," Ms Caddy said in a media statement.

"Australia needs to change now to build a secure and sustainable future for the next generation and it is not only the increasing debt that is unsustainable."

Nationals candidate Sarah Sheedy could not be contacted for comment at the weekend. 

More than 95,000 people voted in the Bendigo electoriate in 2010.

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