My Campaign Launch Speech
02 September 2014
For those unable to attend the campaign launch please find my speech below.
Thank you all so much for being here tonight. It means a really great deal to me. I know a lot of people have travelled a long way, and it’s wonderful to see what kind of support the campaign has, in the room tonight.
Firstly, I would like to acknowledge the Deputy Premier and Leader of The Nationals, Peter Ryan; Deputy Leader, Minister for Water, Agriculture and Food Security, Peter Walsh; and the other three Cabinet Ministers in the room; the entire Nationals Parliamentary team – I’m so grateful that you have taken the time to come out tonight. To the mayors of Strathbogie and Campaspe, Deb Swan and Ian Maddison; and also to Kathy, who taught me English, and was probably one of the best teachers I’ve ever had; the other councillors here tonight; and to our members. But most importantly to the people of Euroa.
There’s a reason, which the Deputy Premier hinted at, why I chose to have my campaign launch here, at the Seymour Football and Netball Club. Tonight, I wasn’t going to miss the opportunity to show the five Cabinet Ministers in the room how desperately this facility needs an upgrade. I hope – at some point during the course of the evening – they all have cause to visit the bathroom, because over the next few months, I’ll be knocking at their doors. So, if you’re next to one of them, please hand them a beer.
This campaign is not about me. It’s about you. It’s about fighting for the best deal for Seymour and the wider electorate of Euroa. It’s about ensuring that this wonderful region – which has so much potential – has the chance to grow and to prosper.
Today marks my 185th day on the campaign trail. I have doorknocked residents in Kilmore and Seymour, met with businesses and community groups, and spoken to hundreds, if not thousands of residents in every corner of the electorate.
Everywhere I go, people tell me the same thing: they want someone who will champion the region’s cause. They want someone who will fight to improve our roads, our public transport, our schools and our hospitals; who will advocate for small business and farmers; who will work to bring new industries to our region.
Well, ladies and gentlemen, I can fight – and I will fight.
The country runs in my veins. I grew up on our family farm on the banks of the Goulburn River, at Murchison downstream of here. Sometime later, we moved to Girgarre, while my parents established a new farm at Wyuna, just north of Kyabram. Floods, droughts – we went through it all. I understand the challenges that come with living in country communities.
But I also see the great opportunities for our region. I see it daily as I drive around the electorate. As we stand here, we are uniquely placed. We are just over one hour from Melbourne on Australia’s main road and rail route. We are blessed with magnificent landscapes, with productive and fertile land, and innovative small businesses. But our biggest resource, I believe, is our passionate and hard-working people who call this place home.
People often ask me why I chose to stand for The Nationals. I’ll tell you why. The Nationals understand regional communities and they understand what they need. The $1 billion Regional Growth Fund, as the Deputy Premier mentioned – which has funded almost 150 projects across the five councils in the Euroa electorate – would not have happened if it weren’t for The Nationals. The Country Roads and Bridges Program, which has invested $160 million additional into maintaining rural roads – that would never have happened if it weren’t for The Nationals.
When I returned after university to work as a journalist, I saw Nationals MPs standing up for drought-stricken communities. I saw them rail against the north-south pipeline, which – were it not for them – would still be taking productive water to Melbourne. Time and time again, over the seven years that I have worked in opposition and in government, I have seen those MPs stand up and defend the interests of their communities. It’s not always visible to the public – but it is our influence around the party room table that makes the real difference.
I want to be part of that – to make sure that The Nationals continue to deliver for rural and regional Victorians.
I would like to thank the many people who have helped me so far and who continue to support me. Many of them are in this room tonight. To my wonderful family and my friends: your encouragement over the past six months has often kept me going and I know, without doubt, will be called upon again in the next three.
People the length and breadth of the electorate have volunteered their time and effort, for which I am really, really grateful. People from all walks of life have thrown their skills and energy behind this campaign. The other day, I had one of my friends, who’s over there – he’s a barrister – but he offered to drive me around the electorate. Another one of my campaign team – an economist – was out with me on the weekend digging weeds in Pioneer Park.
But they don’t do it because of me. They do it because they understand how important it is for this region to have someone who is solely focused on the interests of rural and regional Victoria.
To represent you is a privilege. It is not a right.
Over the next 102 days, I will work to earn the right, and – should you choose to elect me – in the years to come.