CANDIDATES for South West Coast have made their last-minute pleas for votes as the region goes to the polls today.
The electorate has been held by Premier Denis Napthine since it was created at the 2002 state election. It is a safe Liberal Party seat on a 12 per cent margin, with bookmakers tipping it will remain in Coalition hands.
Greens candidate Thomas Campbell said renewable energy, youth unemployment and electoral reform were his key policies ahead of today’s poll.
“Creating jobs through renewable energy has been one of the main things for me and there’s been a lot of attention of this region related to that issue,” the university student said.
Independent candidate Michael McCluskey said voters should give him their first preference if they believed in long-term governance.
“One of my favourite sayings is the politician is focused on the next election while a statesman is focused on the next generation,” the former Warrnambool vet said.
“That’s the message I wanted to get across — we should think long term about the big issues.”
Country Alliance candidate Steve Moore said his campaign was aimed at representing the region’s farmers, which he said had been marginalised during the state election.
“Someone needs to stand up for farmers and the average business owner and that’s the message I’ve been trying to get across,” the Warrnambool businessman said.
Dr Napthine said his government would invest $100 million in the second stage of Warrnambool Base Hospital’s redevelopment.
The South West Coast MP also committed his government to a road network upgrade, redevelopment of Warrnambool’s Special Developmental School and a refurbishment of Heywood hospital’s antiquated kitchen.
Labor candidate Roy Reekie said youth unemployment, cuts to vocational training and anger over Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s leadership had contributed to a Liberal Party backlash.
“I haven’t seen this level of voter frustration in a long time,” the Warrnambool solicitor said.
“There’s frustration at the state government’s performance in Warrnambool but there is visceral anger over in Portland following the Liberal Party’s abandonment of Keppel Prince.”
Independent candidate Linda Smith could not be contacted yesterday but has previously stated her campaign was aimed at addressing heightened domestic violence in the south-west region.
Meanwhile, Transport Minister Terry Mulder will contest the Polwarth electorate for the Liberal Party against Surf Coast councillor Libby Coker for the Labor party. Solicitor Simon Northeast is running for the Greens while retired Colac policeman Phil Edge is representing Country Alliance.