Labor to endorse Chesters for Bendigo

A BENDIGO lawyer failed to nominate for federal Labor pre-selection because he didn’t believe he could win the support of factional leaders.

Bendigo’s Greg Westbrook was regarded as the front runner to replace incumbent Steve Gibbons at the next election.

But Mr Westbrook did not nominate for pre-selection, which closed at noon today.

Kyneton union official Lisa Chesters was the only person to nominate.

She will represent Labor in Bendigo at the next federal election.

Mr Westbrook wrote to Labor members to explain his withdrawal.

“As you know... half of the vote is from local members and half of the vote is from Public Office Selection Committee. This is fair as it shows a candidate has support not only locally but also broadly across the party,” Mr Westbrook wrote to members.

“As POSC is highly factionised, I would need to win a very large percentage of the local vote to convince them I should get the nomination, as I am not in a faction.

“While I have had strong support across Bendigo and Castlemaine, I do not enjoy the same level of support in Woodend and Kyneton.

“Realistically, I would need to win over 60 per cent of the local vote to sway POSC but I believe I would fall short of that.

“As a result, I see no point in nominating and having a pre-selection vote at this time locally – which can be divisive.

“I believe we should start to work straight away to retain the federal seat of Bendigo.”

Party sources have told the Bendigo Advertiser that Mr Westbrook was expected to win the members’ vote.

Bendigo is a left faction seat. Ms Chesters is a member of the left.

Labor state MPs Maree Edwards and Jacinta Allan and federal Bendigo incumbent Steve Gibbons are all members of the left.

Mr Westbrook urged party members to unite behind Ms Chesters.

The Bendigo Advertiser understands Ms Chesters will resign from her position with the United Voices union.

More to come

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