News

Nats want your vote

by
April 04, 2018

Peter Schwarz

Daniel Watson

Peter Shields

The Nationals have rolled the dice on deploying an open community preselection to help choose a candidate to help them wrestle the marginal seat of Shepparton back at this year’s election.

And there are three candidates in the mix.

The successful one will be selected in less than two weeks.

Anyone can vote for who represents the party in November on April 14 under the uncustomary method of selecting a candidate.

It is the first time it has been used by the party in Victoria.

The News’ Thomas Moir spoke with the three people vying to represent the party at this year’s state election.

PETER SCHWARZ

Tell us a bit about your background.

I was raised in Shepparton, I left to do studies. I have worked interstate and overseas, predominantly in the arts. After I got married, studying agriculture, I decided to move back here, buy a farm and raise a family. I’ve been back here 25 years. I have three children.

How do you think you would perform representing Shepparton in the Victorian Parliament?

I’ve got extensive experience at a senior level in the National Party, am federal treasurer and have been state president. I was on the Southern Panel of the Grains Research Development Corporation for five years, the inaugural chair of the Irrigated Cropping Council, and at a senior level at the Landcare movement. I have connections through the CFA. This expanse of senior-level experience, combined with the community level, gives me adequate credentials.

Why did you decide to run for the Nationals?

I had a number of locals talk to me about doing it. After a lot of discussion and looking at the situation overall, I decided I’d do it. I’ve always had a love for Shepparton. I see the Nationals as a political party offering the best choice because they can hold the balance of power in the government. I think we’re in a position where we can get a few things done.

What experience is likely to help you if preselected and elected?

It’s the ability to be able to negotiate outcomes at a high level. It’s okay to think you can just sit there and ask for things. But to have the ability to be able to negotiate and get results... I do have a very good example, when I was with GRDC. Until then, we had never recognised irrigation as a cropping system.

During my time there through my drive and determination, it is now recognised as a cropping system. I take full ownership of that. I already do have quite a few contacts at a senior level within politics, from all corners... it does place me in a unique position in this contest.

What are the key issues you see impacting the Shepparton electorate?

Obviously the rail issue is still a major issue. I think there are solutions out there for it. We just need to think a bit more laterally. We’ve moved past just one or two extra services. All we want is equivalent services to other (regional centres). Not just one more service, that will make us happy. It’s the equivalent (service) to other populations.

The other major issue is water. Being an irrigator, I’ve got a first-hand experience with that. I’m in a unique position. We’re at a crossroads now and we can’t afford to lose any more water out of the area.

The other issue I would say is also the continuing of the hospital upgrade. Okay, we’ve got stage one under way, but let’s get other stages under way.

It’s time to finish the job here.

Law and order and drugs are a major concern still. We can’t put our heads in the sand. There is variety of ways we can deal with it. The other issue, that relies on federal funding, is the Shepparton bypass. I think if we had a National who knew how to negotiate, combined with a Nationals member at a federal level, it puts us in a very good position.

If preselected and then elected what would you make your focus in Victorian Parliament during the next few years?

I’d like to see the issue of water stabilised. Where we’ve got security, it’s sustainable, but also fair and affordable. I’d like to see the equivalent rail services that other regional services have. And realistically, a commitment and construction on further hospital stages.

They would be the key points I’d be driving, regardless of who is in government.

PETER SHIELDS

Tell us a bit about your background.

I’m off the family farm. I’ve grown up and live in Dookie with my wife and three kids. I’m a glazier by trade, and have spent over 20 years in the trade.

I’m president of the Dookie show society, the historical society, the Dookie recreation reserve committee. I’m a CFA volunteer for over 20 years, holding all roles bar captain.

How do you think you would perform representing Shepparton in Victorian Parliament?

Being president of Nationals Party in the Shepparton electorate and also vice-president of the Nationals in the Murray electorate, having those roles under my belt, I obviously have worked all the time among politicians.

Having the Nationals as a strong party in the state parliament, as a party base, I have worked with them to get more for regional Victoria.

My experience in the Nationals party has led me to help provide for regional Victoria and Shepparton, having contact within the state branch as well as the federal branch.

Why did you decide to run for the Nationals?

I constantly see the top end of town believing they know what’s best for middle and lower-income earners of our region, as well as business owners and farmers.

(People in Shepparton) don’t want someone who has no involvement in farming or a trade base to try and explain to them they know what’s best.

What experience is likely to help you if preselected and elected?

Obviously... my experience in politics and my leadership roles. And also community-based leadership roles.

And a firm understanding of politics and what’s involved

It’s easy for you to say I’m interested in being in politics, but to have a grasp of what’s involved...

What are the key issues you see impacting the Shepparton electorate?

Obviously, crime. Also the disconnect of youth in this town.

We need to address this by groups, such as the Lighthouse Project, being properly funded and initiatives that address unemployment. And productivity in the agricultural system.

And if preselected and then elected what would you make your focus in Victorian Parliament?

Transport, a fully funded transport system, (encompassing) roads, trains and the freight network. Fully funded because a farmer in Nathalia might not use the train, but will use freight and road to get his product to market... better services, as such, across the board.

Water is important, to see a proper irrigation system with security in water for our farming community. One that does not see water being taken out of our region, for (the benefit of) agriculture and business as well.

DANIEL WATSON

Tell us a bit about your background.

I have been a career public servant and took an early retirement about 10 years ago.

Since then, I’ve been doing a fair bit of travelling. I met my partner here in Shepparton.

I settled down here as a stay-at-home dad mostly, raising a family and volunteering with the CFA.

The prospect of raising the kids was too good. Settling down here in Shepparton has done wonders for me.

How do you think you would perform representing Shepparton in Victorian Parliament?

Shepparton’s a great area. I think it needs someone with a passion for our community,

someone strong-willed to drive it forward.

We’ve got a pretty stagnant economy compared with other (regional cities).

I think we need someone really passionate. Whoever gets in needs to be strong-willed and positive. We’ve got a lot of good things here and we need to build that up.

Why did you decide to run for the Nationals?

My family has got a lot of history with the party.

A few community members came to me and said it would be too good (an opportunity).

I hadn’t been thinking about politics, but after thinking about it, I thought it would be good for me, too.

What experience is likely to help you if preselected and elected?

Being a family man, a stay-at-home dad, I’m well aware of the costs affecting communities.

I have a really good common man’s attitude.

The background in the public service helps. I have a good understanding of education and economics.

I look at the big picture of politics and tackle the individual issues.

I deal with education, healthcare all the time, dealing with farmers all the time, the challenges of job seekers.

What are the key issues you see impacting the Shepparton electorate?

Issues around crime are a significant issue in this area, we’re well above the state average.

Access to transport, roads. They’re not glamorous issues, but if we get them right, it will impact trade. We need to be able to grow infrastructure.

And if preselected and then elected what would you make your focus in Victorian Parliament?

It would be focusing on healthcare, government services. We need them in our community, to deliver those services locally. We need to look at education and challenges.

We have lots of issues affecting primary industries. Industry and innovation have a lot to achieve in the area.

Water issues, if we deal with those, we can set Shepparton up for the future, and that supports our manufacturing industry.

That’s one of our biggest employers and a huge boost to the economy.

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