Premier fends off blows

Premier Denis Napthine, pictured arriving for a controversial party fundraiser at the Warrnambool Racecourse on Wednesday night, has fended off further punches to his integrity. Picture: ROB GUNSTONE

Premier Denis Napthine, pictured arriving for a controversial party fundraiser at the Warrnambool Racecourse on Wednesday night, has fended off further punches to his integrity. Picture: ROB GUNSTONE

Premier Denis Napthine has fended off further punches to his integrity over his role in supporting a planned expansion by Midfield Meat, saying he used fair and legitimate tactics.

“I will never shy away from fighting for what’s right for South West Coast,” Dr Napthine declared. 

“I will fight and fight and fight for my community, fighting for jobs, fighting for much-needed health services. 

“That’s what I’m elected to do.”

He has been in the boxing ring all week since The Age began delving into his role in a $1.5m Regional Development Victoria grant to assist the Warrnambool-based company with its $20m expansion and in moves to transfer a Crown land title.

“I haven’t pulled strings,” he said yesterday as he mixed with consituents at the announcement of a $5m fund-raising achievement for the Peter’s Project cancer centre appeal. 

“I’ve fought and fought legitimately.

“For example, for the jobs for Midfield I met with Midfield and explained how they could access through Warrnambool City Council, Regional Development Victoria, how they could access legitimate pathways to get their funding.

“Similarly with Peter’s Project and the emergency helicopter, we’ve fought using every legitimate process and political tactic, but we’ve done it legitimately and fairly, not using undue influence.

“Proper processes, that’s what politicians should do. 

“They should listen to their local community, they should fight for their local community using proper processes and that’s what I’ve done in each and every case.”

He denied there was a push to fast-track the land transfer for Midfield as suggested in a media report based on a leaked confidential Warrnambool City Council document.

“My understanding is this is an internal report from the council — I’ve never seen it and I don’t know who wrote it,” he said.

“All I can say is that as local member I will continue to fight for jobs and I will do it through proper processes.

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