Liberals a no-show for Lowan contest

ONE of the last remaining members of the Bolte government says he’s “personally disappointed” the Liberal Party isn’t contesting his old seat.

Former Lowan MP Jim McCabe was first elected to represent the Hamilton-based seat five decades ago and said there was still Liberal support in the National Party constituency.

Premier Denis Napthine ruled out a three-cornered contest in Lowan following the retirement of Sport Minister Hugh Delahunty, as Coalition rules stipulate that both parties can’t contest the seat unless the incumbent MP resigns.

The 91-year-old told The Standard while he hadn’t played a role in state politics for decades, he believed there was significant Liberal support in the Wimmera.        

“After I heard the announcement, I was a little surprised,” Mr McCabe said. “It personally disappointed me but obviously the party has its reasons.

“There’s never been a huge amount of difference between the Country Party, as it was then known, and the Liberal Party, but there are few important points that we used to debate. I think it’s healthy to have a bit of competition, so I personally would have liked to have seen a contest but I’m out of politics these days.”

Mr McCabe first gained a seat in State Parliament at the 1964 election, replacing incumbent MP Mick Mibus after he died suddenly from a heart attack.

He served one term before being ousted at the 1967 election but later returned to represent Lowan for another nine years following the 1970 election.

The retired Wimmera farmer is one of the few MPs remaining from the Bolte government.

“Henry Bolte was a straight talker — that’s what appealed to a lot of voters,” Mr McCabe said. 

“He had country interests at heart because he was a farmer himself. 

“I met Robert Menzies a few times because he grew up in the Wimmera. The contrast between him and Bolte was like chalk and cheese, but they really did get along famously.”

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