Former Bendigo mayor Laurie Whelan to run for the Greens in Bendigo West

Greens Bendigo East candidate Nakita Thomson, Northern Victoria candidate Nicole Rowan and Bendigo West candidate Laurie Whelan. Picture: GLENN DANIELS
Greens Bendigo East candidate Nakita Thomson, Northern Victoria candidate Nicole Rowan and Bendigo West candidate Laurie Whelan. Picture: GLENN DANIELS

FORMER Bendigo mayor Laurie Whelan will stand as a candidate for Bendigo West in the upcoming state election.

A member of the Greens since the founding of the party’s Bendigo branch in 1995, Mr Whelan said he had always maintained a keen interest in initiatives to tackle climate change and support better public transport.

The business he owns, the Good Loaf Sourdough Bakery, was among the first to install an electric car port and had 75 solar panels installed on its roof 18 months ago.

Mr Whelan said as investment in renewable energy increases, the impact on power bills will decrease.

“What is requires is certainty in investment in renewable energy,” he said.

“I think as other parts of the country are showing, where there’s a combination of base storage in batteries combined with solar and other renewable sources, it can make a difference.”

Mr Whelan served on the City of Greater Bendigo from 1996 to 2002, including two years as mayor.

This year he campaigned to improve cyclist safety on Sedgwick Road, and has remained an active member of the Sedgwick/Harcourt Landcare Group and the Better Rail Action Group.

He will contest the seat held by sitting Labor MP Maree Edwards.

The Greens also announced their candidate for Bendigo East, La Trobe University psychology graduate and Master of Planning student Nakita Thomson.

She said she wanted to see Victoria embrace a container deposit scheme, and increase investment in renewable energy.

Ms Thomson grew up on a farm near Shepparton with conservative parents, and said she was used to negative stereotypes that accompany the Greens.

“A lot have very Greens views that they don’t realise they have,” she said.

“I’ve noticed a trend of more farmers becoming more environmental, that climate change is going to affect their businesses, there’s going to be more drought, there’s going to be more extreme weather events.

“They want to invest in change, they want to invest in sustainable agriculture.”

Wait continues for Liberal candidate for Bendigo West

WITH the state election just over four months away, there remains no sign of a Liberal Party candidate for Bendigo West.

Labor MP Maree Edwards holds the seat on a margin of 12.2 per cent after achieving a 4 per cent swing at the 2014 election – the safest Labor seat in regional Victoria.

The Greens announced their candidate on Friday.

Ms Edwards said it was positive to see at least one candidate announced by another party.

“At least one party is interested in the seat,” she said.

“The Liberals’ choice of previous candidates indicates they don’t take Bendigo West that seriously. They recycle candidates, or choose ones that haven’t been properly vetted.”

Greens candidate Laurie Whelan said the party was realistic that it would not win lower house seats in regional Victoria, but candidates were focused on gaining votes for Northern Victoria candidate Nicole Rowan in the upper house.

The Greens hope to win the seat held by the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party.

The Victorian Liberal Party was contacted for comment.

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