Bega Valley Shire Mayor Kristy McBain has been officially endorsed as Labor’s Eden-Monaro by-election candidate by leader Anthony Albanese.
Ms McBain shot to national prominence as the voice of the Bega region during the bushfire crisis.
Nominations for Labor pre-selection will close on Monday, but Mr Albanese said he is very confident that Ms McBain will receive the support of locals and Labor to represent the electorate at the up-coming by-election.
Ms McBain said she did not seek out the position, but she is willing to take it on to voice the concerns of the Eden-Monaro region.
“I want to take it on for a number of reasons,” she said. “I am local, I am from the community and I have worked for the community for a number of years now.
“Over the last six months, it has become abundantly clear to me that leadership needs to happen and it needs to happen at a local level.
“I want to be that voice because I do not want my community to be left behind, and at the moment, they are being left behind.”
Outgoing member Mike Kelly said the region needed a candidate who would take their concerns to the national level, adding that no single electorate had suffered more in recent times than Eden-Monaro
Dr Kelly said the electorate deserved someone who would stand up on issues like climate change, as the snowfields – which constitute 50 per cent of the region’s economy – are increasingly impacted by rising temperatures.
It’s an issue Ms McBain said she is taking very seriously.
“I think everybody trusts the science around coronavirus and COVID-19. I cannot understand why everybody does not trust the science on climate change. It is real, it is there and you can see it on the ground in the Eden-Monaro”, she said.
Ms McBain also flagged the time lag and lack of assistance on the ground during and after the bushfire crisis as a substantive issue, calling on the Federal Government to help a region hard-hit by fires, drought and the pandemic.
“With these three disasters acting concurrently, we did not, and are not, receiving the support we need,” she said.
“What we face right now is more significant than ever. My community, specifically, has had three bushfires in two years. The whole Eden-Monaro is going through a drought and it is still there.
“People on the ground are crying out for help, they are desperate. I have people that are still in tents, people that are in caravans, we have winter coming. We have a lot of people who are seasonal, casual workers who were not eligible for a great deal of the bushfire support, and are not eligible for COVID-19 [assistance].
“We have new businesses that were established in the last 12 months that are not eligible for anything under any crisis.”
It was her passion for local issues like these that make her the perfect candidate and voice for the region, Mr Albanese said.
“She has been out there, not just during a by-election campaign. When it really mattered, she was out there making a difference for her local community. They know that, they know her, they have seen her, they have met her,” he said.
“Everyone at the business roundtable knew her, trusted her and saw her as their voice. She wants to take that voice into this parliament.”
Ms McBain advised the Bega Council that she will step aside as Mayor during the election campaign but will remain an active Councillor.
Deputy Mayor Sharon Tapscott will take on the responsibilities of Mayor in the short term as the current Mayoral term runs until 16 September 2020.
One option is for the Councillors to elect a mayor at their May meeting to see out the remaining five months before the scheduled election in September.
NSW Liberal Senator Jim Molan, NSW Liberal Andrew Constance and NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro have also been touted as potential candidates for the Federal seat.