Bendigo candidate passionate about people’s rights

LABOR’S candidate for next year’s federal election has cited a desire to advocate for the rights of people as her motivation to seek political office.

Kyneton union official Lisa Chesters yesterday hosted her first media conference after gaining Labor endorsement on Friday.

Ms Chesters, who the Bendigo Advertiser revealed as a candidate last year, won preselection uncontested after Bendigo lawyer Greg Westbrook failed to nominate.

“I decided to put my hand up because I am really passionate about the core Labor agenda, which is jobs, better health, better education and a fairer society,” she said. 

Ms Chesters was born in regional Queesland and worked in her parents’ small business on the Sunshine Coast during summer holidays.

She attended public school in Maroochydore, was a high school vice-captain in 1997, and was the town’s young Australian of the year for co-ordinating a Landcare program.

Ms Chesters was the first of her family to attend university and graduated with an arts degree from the University of Queensland.

She worked as a cleaner and in hospitality to support herself during university.

“My experience growing up in a small business family, my experience in the union – unions, they represent people who don’t have a voice, they empower ordinary people to do extraordinary things – they are the skills that I reckon people in Bendigo want,” Ms Chesters said.

“They want someone who will listen and someone who will represent them.”

Incumbent Steve Gibbons, the longest serving Bendigo MP, announced last year he would retire from federal politics in 2013.

Ms Chesters said Mr Gibbons, who holds a 9.5 per cent margin, would leave behind a legacy of “standing up and representing locals on local issues” and vowed to continue this commitment if elected.

Ms Chesters would be the first female Bendigo federal MP – a feat she said she would be proud to achieve. “Gender is no longer an issue,” she said. 

“When you are out talking to people, they don’t care about gender, they don’t care about age. They just care that you are going to represent them and that you are going to listen to them.”

Ms Chesters said she would attend the Bendigo Thunder’s VWFL North West conference grand final this weekend. The 32-year-old listed arts, gardening, reading and playing the cello as her interests.

Three ALP MPs – Mr Gibbons, John Brumby and David Kennedy – and two Liberals – Bruce Reid and John Bourchier – have held Bendigo since 1969.

The Liberal Party will preselect a candidate at the end of August.

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