Liberals target ‘law and order’ candidates for Bendigo ahead of Victorian election

The Bendigo Magistrates' Court.
The Bendigo Magistrates' Court.

“LAW and order” looks set to dominate the upcoming state election campaign in Bendigo East as the local Liberal Party branch targets a candidate with a known legal background.

Liberal pre-selection has opened for the crucial campaign against sitting MP Jacinta Allan, who holds the seat on a margin of five per cent.

President of the Liberal Party Bendigo branch Carolynne Fawcett said they had a “strong” candidate who had declared his interest.

She was coy on the candidate’s identity, but said he had a “law and order background”, was a councillor in a council other than Bendigo, and was originally from Bendigo.

“People are scared at the moment, and they want someone representing them who understands our legal system and how to improve it,” Ms Fawcett said.

Pre-selection opened in recent weeks and will run until mid-March when party members vote for their chosen nominee, and the matter is then sent to the state director for approval.

So far, two people have nominated for the Liberals in Bendigo East.

A number of high profile community and business leaders, as well as former Liberal candidates, have already ruled themselves out of nominating.

Bendigo East is one of the Coalitions’ main targets in regional Victoria as it attempts to win back seven seats to gain a majority in parliament.

Maree Edwards, Jacinta Allan and federal MP Lisa Chesters celebrate Labor's election victoria in Bendigo East and Bendigo West in 2014.

Maree Edwards, Jacinta Allan and federal MP Lisa Chesters celebrate Labor's election victoria in Bendigo East and Bendigo West in 2014.

Member for Bendigo East Jacinta Allan said she believed Bendigo was a “safe and secure community”.

“That’s a result of a lot of hard work by Victoria Police,” she said.

“Our work in family violence is also helping to make the community safer, and we have provided more rehab beds for Bendigo.

“Victoria has more than 3000 new officers on the front line.

“We also now has the toughest bail laws in the country.”

Ms Allan said the Bendigo community would “see through” the Coalitions’ campaign on law and order.

High profile lawyers in Bendigo, including the president of the Bendigo Law Association, have queried whether “tough on crime” policies can be effective in the long run.

On Wednesday, shadow attorney-general John Pesutto said the Labor government had unduly delayed changes to bail laws. They are due to come into effect in July and October.

The Coalition moved an amendment to have the laws introduced in March.

“The Andrews Labor government continues to drag its feet on bail law changes,” Mr Pesutto said.

The state election is scheduled for November 24.

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