Former Warrnambool mayor Jacinta Ermacora has arguably become south-west Victoria's most powerful politician after being elected as a Labor Member for Western Victoria.
Ms Ermacora was guaranteed a place in parliament after insiders selected her at the top of Labor's upper house ticket, but with Daniel Andrews' resounding election win she becomes the only local MP with the ear of the government.
It will be the first time in more than half a century Warrnambool has had an upper house MP, and Ms Ermacora knows expectations will be high.
"I think I'm the first since 1968, so I'm not sure what people will be expecting. I think people will want a voice that reflects Labor values, and some will expect an access point to government, which is fine," she said.
She said the best way to meet community expectations was to push the government to deliver on the local promises it had made.
"The south-west has a very big list of commitments from this government, whether it's the hospital redevelopment, upgrades to the Warrnambool rail line, school upgrades, or the new tech school and TAFE building projects," Ms Ermacora said.
"In fact, that's where I'd really challenge this notion that independents get a whole lot for their electorates. They get whatever they can wheedle out of government, they don't get a whole strategy like Labor is delivering."
She said the tech school and TAFE project were a case in point.
"You've got the new renewable trades building at Sherwood Park , then the tech school preparing secondary students, it all locks together as a strategy moving to a carbon neutral economy. Independents don't do that, a government with a strong strategy for the future does that."
Ms Ermacora said a career as a "regional leader on boards, council, working with mayors, CEOs and key leaders across the region" had prepared her for Spring Street.
"Negotiating with colleagues in local government, understanding the priorities and view of your colleagues, meeting with a diverse cross-section of the community, all of that has been hugely valuable.
"I'm very excited to tell that story of regional communities when I get to parliament," she said.
She said Labor had some work to do to win back local voters, who deserted the party in South West Coast on the weekend.
"I would first say congrats to Roma Britnell, she ran a fantastic campaign, but any time there's a swing against a party there needs to be humility, reflection, listening and learning," she said.
"Certainly, my first thought is always what are the needs there and what did we not touch on from a policy perspective."
Ms Ermacora said the region's crumbling roads were "a challenge", but Labor was spending twice what the Coalition spend on south-west roads when they were last in power.
She also said the decision to cap V/Line tickets at metro prices was "a perfect example of Labor understanding the needs and experience of country people".
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