SILVER screen inspiration Swampy Marsh will run as an independent candidate at the upcoming South West Coast by-election.
The Purnim chicken farmer will on Tuesday declare that he will run at the October 31 by-election triggered by the retirement of former premier Denis Napthine.
In an exclusive interview with The Standard, Mr Marsh said the time was right for an independent MP representing South West Coast.
“We have so many grey and drab politicians – I think it’s time for a change,” the 68-year-old said.
“One of the big issues I’m campaigning on is roads. Everyone knows we have some of the worst roads in the whole state yet we’ve had Liberal governments and Labor governments and they’ve failed to bloody fix them.
“I was on the V/Line bus the other day heading back to Warrnambool and driving over the potholes was like riding a bull out of the gate.”
The announcement of his candidacy comes less than a fortnight into the national release of Oddball, with actor Shane Jacobson portraying the larrikin Mr Marsh on the silver screen.
The film focuses on how Middle Island’s once-flourishing penguin population was decimated in the mid 2000s by foxes and dogs until only few dozen remained.
Mr Marsh’s four maremma sheepdogs had been protecting his chickens against predators for a decade. He figured they could do the same for the penguins and convinced Warrnambool City Council to his way of thinking.
“When it came to Middle Island and the maremmas, I had to take on Warrnambool City, the DSE, Deakin Uni, Coastcare, Landcare and Parks Victoria,” Mr Marsh said. “So I know a thing or two about government bureaucracy.
“With the release of Oddball, this is the best time to get some attention on the poor condition of the Princes Highway, all the potholed roads around the district and the lack of funding down here. This seat has been taken for granted for too long and we don’t need any more professional politicians.”
Mr Marsh ran as a Wannon independent candidate at the 2010 federal election. He received 1.3 per cent, or 1080 votes, in a Melbourne Cup field which included Wannon MP Dan Tehan.
The Purnim farmer has been a member of both the Liberal and Labor parties over the past four decades but decided that neither were his cup of tea.
“To use the old Groucho Marx line – I wouldn’t want to be part of any political party that would have me as a member,” he laughed.
“The whole point of me running for Parliament is that I don’t have to answer to anyone and I can say what I bloody well like.
Mr Marsh is one of six declared South West Coast candidates for the October 31 by-election alongside Roma Britnell (Liberal Party), Thomas Campbell (Greens), Michael McCluskey (independent), Michael Neoh (National Party) and Roy Reekie (independent).