Member for Wannon Dan Tehan has taken a swipe at a south-west group after he cancelled a meeting with representatives.
Voices for Wannon, which has produced a report outlining its priorities for the electorate, was scheduled to meet Mr Tehan last Friday afternoon.
However, members expressed their disappointment after Mr Tehan cancelled the appointment on Thursday.
Voices for Wannon spokesman Greg Tweet said the group hoped to meet with Mr Tehan at a later date.
"The failure to meet was disappointing, given the support for these matters in the electorate," Mr Tweet said.
"People in Wannon have expressed overwhelming support for immediate action on a range of matters including immediate action on climate change, and greater integrity in government."
Mr Tweet said the group was now hoping to hoping to endorse an independent candidate who endorses the community's priorities.
On Tuesday, Mr Tehan told The Standard he could not attend the scheduled appointment because he held a meeting with the New Zealand Minister for Agriculture, Trade and Export Growth, Rural Communities, Land Information and Biosecurity, in Melbourne.
"Trade and exports are very important to regional communities," Mr Tehan said.
"Given this was our first in-person meeting since the international border re-opened, it was important I attend."
Mr Tehan said the group was advised he would need to reschedule.
He said the 'Voices Of' political organisation was a co-ordinated movement running candidates against government MPs across Australia.
But Voices of Wannon has denied any affiliation with the movement.
"The fact they aren't running against Labor or Greens MPs shows they're not really 'independent', but a left wing group with a clear agenda to push policies that seem more out of the Greens play book," Mr Tehan said.
"People should look beyond their stunts to their left-wing green agenda, because they would be bad for Wannon and bad for regional and rural Australia."
Mr Tweet said the group was totally independent from other 'Voices Of' groups.
"We are a community group and are not affiliated with any political parties," he said.
"We do not receive any funding from any organisations, parties or corporations.
"Obviously we have been inspired by the "Voices 4 Indi" movement and have modelled some of our processes on theirs (as acknowledged in our report), but we are completely independent from other "Voices" groups."
The Voices for Wannon group's top priorities are:
- 1. Real and urgent action on climate change
- 2. Improved integrity and transparency in government
- 3. Compassionate treatment of refugees and people seeking asylum
- 4. Increased availability of affordable and social housing
- 5. Improved access to health services (including mental health)
Voices for Wannon was launched in early 2021 and since then, more than 170 residents from 20 towns across the electorate, including Portland, Warrnambool, Port Fairy, Hamilton, Terang, Peterborough, Camperdown, and new Wannon communities such as Lorne, Aireys Inlet and Deans Marsh have participated in kitchen table and online conversations.
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