Newly-announced Liberal candidate for Bendigo West Kevin Finn says the region needs multiple business parks to attract private sector investment.
The 37-year-old lawyer, who was preselected by the Liberal Party this week, said establishing one or more industrial parks, and commencing planning for a Bendigo ring road would be his priorities should he be elected.
The state government in July rejected the forced sale of a portion of the Carter family farm in Marong, land which was earmarked for Bendigo’s first business park.
Mr Finn, from Huntly, also claimed Victoria’s drug problem was alarming, and only a Liberal-National government had policies to solve it.
“We are in the midst of a drug crisis, destroying individuals, families and communities and leading to an increase in violent crime and aggravated burglaries,” he said.
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“A Matthew Guy-led Liberal National government will deliver targeted education for younger people, better access to rehabilitation and tougher penalties for drug kingpins who prey on our most vulnerable.”
Incumbent Labor MP Maree Edwards said “it’s a bit of a furphy to say we have an issue with law and order”, suggesting engendering fear in the community was not a way to win an election.
Most recent data from the Crime Statistics Agency shows the rate of offences in Greater Bendigo jumped from 8676.6 per 100,000 people at June 2016 to 9378 this year.
The offence rate in Bendigo has increased steadily since 2014.
Ms Edwards said Mr Finn’s candidacy, six weeks out from an election, “smacks of tokenism”.
“It’s very revealing. It shows a huge disrespect to the communities in Bendigo West,” she said.
Greens candidate for Bendigo West Laurie Whelan said Mr Finn had a lot of work ahead of him.
“While I welcome him as a candidate, I would say this is an opportunity to show a protest vote against the Liberals for the delay and their lack of attention in the area,” he said.
“You’ve got to work for peoples’ votes.”
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