Update - Thursday, April 25
THE electorate of Bendigo is set for a showdown between two rival elements of Australia's political far-right when Australia votes next month.
Senator Fraser Anning's Conservative National Party candidate for the marginal Labor seat is Julie Hoskin, a former Bendigo councillor who led an unsuccessful legal objection to a mosque all the way to the High Court, where she was refused leave to appeal and later went bankrupt, unable to pay the costs of the case.
Her One Nation opponent will be local businessman Vaughan Williams who is running on a platform of "Australian values, sane immigration policies, protecting farmers" and preventing Australia "heading down a road controlled by a non-elected United Nations and their global policies".
The seat is currently held by Labor MP Lisa Chesters, a former union organiser. Read more here.
Wednesday, April 24
FORMER councillor and anti-mosque protester Julie Hoskin is among seven candidates campaigning for the federal seat of Bendigo.
Labor, the Liberals, the Greens, the United Australia Party, Pauline Hanson's One Nation, the Rise Up Australia Party and Fraser Anning's Conservative National Party will contest the marginal seat at the May 18 election.
Ms Hoskin, the candidate for Mr Anning's party, was last year declared bankrupt but has an application pending with the Federal Court in relation to an appeal.
She declined to comment on how her financial status affected her decision to nominate.
Undischarged bankruptcy or insolvency is grounds for disqualification from nomination for the Senate or House of Representatives under section 44 of the Constitution.
Candidates are required upon nomination to declare they are constitutionally and legally qualified to be elected, and to submit a qualification checklist.
The AEC does not have the authority to conduct eligibility checks on potential candidates.
"Any disqualification of a candidate due to the operation of Section 44... can only be determined by the High Court after an election," the AEC website stated.
The AEC publishes the qualification checklist and any additional information provided for each candidate, 'as soon as practicable after the declaration of nominations'.
Labor's Lisa Chesters said she was surprised Ms Hoskin had put herself forward, given her current status - as she suspected most of Bendigo would be.
Liberal candidate Sam Gayed said there was no point in scrutinising Ms Hoskin's decision much because she was running for a minor party.
Far right parties rise
Ms Chesters is uncertain who she will preference last, given the number of 'really far right-wing' parties to nominate candidates in Bendigo ahead of the May 18 election.
Rise Up Australia Party's Sharon Budde's name will appear first on the ballot paper.
Dr Robert Holian, of the Greens, will be in second position, followed by Ms Chesters.
Next will be the United Australia Party's Adam Veitch.
Liberal candidate Sam Gayed has the fifth ballot position, with Pauline Hanson's One Nation candidate Vaughan Williams in sixth.
Rounding out the ballot is former Bendigo councillor and anti-mosque protester Julie Hoskin, representing Fraser Anning's Conservative National Party.
"Labor has a policy to put One Nation last, but Fraser Anning's party has also nominated a candidate so it's a bit hard to know who to put last," Ms Chesters said.
"We've got a number of parties that are representing views I believe do not reflect the broader Bendigo electorate and the broader Australian community.
"People who are anti-mosque, people who are xenophobic, people who are anti our strong, diverse multicultural community."
She expected Labor to finalise its preferences in the next 24 hours.
Ms Chesters will preference the Greens second and the Liberals third.
It is not yet known how the other six parties contesting the seat of Bendigo will allocate their preferences.
Liberal candidate Sam Gayed said he believed his preferences would be decided by the party at a national level.
"I assume in the next two days we'll do our preferencing," he said.
He was unperturbed by the number of right-wing parties running candidates in Bendigo.
"It's not a big deal for me. I was just concerned not to see the Nationals represented," Mr Gayed said.
The Nationals have not fielded a candidate.The party called for nominations from eligible members to contest the seat at the end of January.
The Nationals were contacted for comment.
Ms Chesters said she was not surprised the Nationals were not contesting the seat.
"They, as a political party, have really tried to consolidate their resources behind candidates in Mallee and candidates in Indi, so I'm not surprised at all," Ms Chesters said.
She believed the decision not to run a candidate in Bendigo was partly because of the party's primary results in the 2016 election and because of some boundary changes.
Andy Maddison ran for the Nationals in Bendigo in 2016, picking up 3.63 per cent of the division's first preference votes.
Ms Chesters won the 2016 election with 53.74 per cent of the two party preferred votes.
A 2.48 per cent swing was recorded in her favour, against Liberal candidate Megan Purcell.
Ms Chesters has held the seat since 2013, when she received 51.26 per cent of the two party preferred votes, to Liberal candidate Greg Bickley's 48.74 per cent.
Bendigo's seven candidates are among a total of 1514 people contesting the federal election nationwide.
Australians will go to the polls with the most complete electoral roll in the nation's history, with a record 16.4 million people enrolled to cast their votes.
Mr Gayed, the Liberal candidate for Bendigo, said he was happy with the order on the ballot paper.
"It is a new experience, of course, for me - exciting, challenging, but I always enjoy challenges," the engineer said.
Mr Veitch, of the United Australia Party, ran in 2007 as an independent.
He said the previous campaign was 'a bit more of a work experience sort of thing'.
"I just see how it all operates and things I need to work on personally to get into this sort of area," he said.
Mr Veitch quit his job as a disability and mental health advocate with the Rights Information and Advocacy Centre to concentrate on his campaign.
He identified jobs, the economy and environmental issues as priorities in the seat of Bendigo.
"You've got to be in it to win it and so I'm just going to put my best foot forward and do everything I can in this electorate to promote the UAP policies and a better future for Australians," Mr Veitch said.
Mr Williams, the self-employed candidate for Pauline Hanson's One Nation, campaigned for a seat in local government in 2016.
His bid to become a councillor in the Lockwood ward of the City of Greater Bendigo was unsuccessful, garnering 5.43 per cent of the first preference votes.
Rise Up Australia Party's Sharon Budde is a retired nurse and a housekeeper. The party was contacted for comment.
The Greens candidate, Dr Holian, is a first-time campaigner and a practicing doctor in Bendigo. He was contacted for comment.
Ms Hoskin was described in AEC data as an advocate. She was elected to the Bendigo council in 2016 and resigned in September 2018.
She said she joined Mr Anning's party 'pretty much straight after' registrations opened.
Fraser Anning's Conservative National Party's registration was approved on April 2.
"I know people that are part of Fraser Anning's party and I am very impressed with them, I'm impressed with his policies and I'm impressed with his speeches, as well," Ms Hoskin said.
She said getting Australia out of the United Nations was one of the most pertinent policies her party could offer the people of Bendigo.
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