THE Nationals have become the first party to announce a candidate to take on Labor MP Jacinta Allan in the seat of Bendigo East in the state election.
Gaelle Broad – a former ABC presenter and former staffer to Peter Costello and Bridget McKenzie – was endorsed by the Nationals this week, and was looking forward to a 35-week campaign.
She said planning for the growth of Bendigo was her main priority.
“Bendigo East really could be a centre of innovation for business,” Ms Broad said.
“As we see continued growth in Bendigo, we need to make sure that we plan for the future because currently we still have big trucks going down Pall Mall, we have water issues that we’re facing.
“We need to think through how we’re going to do this well.
“Jacinta Allan has been in for 19 years, she has a very high profile, and I think I need time for people to get to know me and so that’s what I’ll be doing over the next 35 weeks.”
Ms Broad has a Master of Public Policy and was keen to liaise with as many people as possible before speaking in detail about her position on specific policies.
She has also worked as general manager of Christian radio station Life FM and is a lay preacher at the Bendigo Baptist Church.
Ms Broad said it was disappointing to see the community’s perception of politicians diminish in recent years after repeated rorting scandals.
“Twenty years ago, it was considered something that you would esteem to be, and what an honour to represent people in your community,” she said.
“People expect leaders to have a level of trust and integrity, and when they fall short of that it’s so disappointing.”
The National Party did not run a candidate in Bendigo East in 2014, and won six per cent of the vote in 2010.
The Broad name has strong connections with the National Party through Mallee MP Andrew Broad. Gaelle Broad is married to his second cousin.
The Liberal Party is yet to announce candidates for Bendigo East or Bendigo West, but a party spokesperson said a decision was not far off.
The Greens will open pre-selection after Easter. The Batman byelection set the party back several weeks as resources were diverted.
Jacinta Allan said she looked forward to debating the key issues for Bendigo in the coming months.
“Bendigo East is always a tight seat, it’s not a seat I’ve ever taken for granted,” she said.