Victoria’s Opposition leader Matthew Guy says the marginal seat of Shepparton is a ‘‘must win’’ to him at this year’s election.
In town yesterday, Mr Guy announced the Liberal Party’s preselection for Shepparton would open on Monday and stressed urgency in getting a candidate on the ground and out in the community.
Mr Guy said the Shepparton seat was without doubt an important one for the party.
‘‘This is a must win seat for us,’’ he said.
‘‘Our view is it’s one we’ve got to put a lot of resources to, and a lot of effort on, focus on, and get a decent candidate to make sure we can win it.
‘‘It will obviously be a three, maybe four-way contest with an independent, a Liberal, a National and Labor,’’ Mr Guy said.
‘‘So, we want to make sure we put our best foot forward and we’ve put all the resources we need to do the job properly.’’
Mr Guy imagined rail, education and health in particular would become key policy platforms for the seat, alongside statewide concerns such as cost of living and law and order.
He said it was no secret the Coalition had highlighted decentralisation as a priority, with a long-term view to ‘‘decentralising population and jobs out of Melbourne’’ and growing regional cities.
He believed Shepparton was a place where a lot of emphasis was needed on boosting infrastructure for it to become ‘‘a good population growth centre for us’’.
State Member for Shepparton Suzanna Sheed, elected in 2014, is yet to announce whether she will re-contest the seat this year.
Ms Sheed last year said she had not yet decided on whether to run and that there was still plenty of work left to do.
Meanwhile, nominations are open for the Nationals’ open community preselection for the seat.
It marks the first community preselection in Victoria, where residents will have a say on who stands for the Nationals in November’s election.
Nominations for the Nationals are open until March 9, before the preselection on April 14.