18 February 2022

Fresh blood just what the doctor ordered for seat of Bega

| Katrina Condie
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Dr Michael Holland. Photo: Michael Holland.

Labor’s Dr Michael Holland won the long-held Liberal seat of Bega following the by-election on Saturday 12 February. Photo: Michael Holland.

Voters have sent a clear message to NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet that it’s time to inject some fresh blood into State Parliament, with Labor’s Dr Michael Holland claiming the long-held Liberal seat of Bega following the by-election on Saturday 12 February.

A newcomer to politics, 64-year-old Dr Holland says four decades working in medicine has provided him with the tools required to be a “good local representative”.

“Being a politician is not much different from being a doctor really – you listen to people’s problems, you make a diagnosis and you prescribe a treatment,” he said.

“I want to be there for my constituents, to listen to them, raise their issues on the floor of parliament and work with the relevant ministers to find solutions.”

While most MPs have held party membership for a long time or worked their way up the ranks through local councils to state level, Dr Holland’s journey has been very different.

Frustrated with the lack of commitment to the proposed Eurobodalla Regional Hospital, the former obstetrician and gynaecologist with the Southern NSW Local Health District made the decision to join the Labor Party and run for NSW Parliament in December – less than two months out from polling day.

READ ALSO Holland looks set to win seat of Bega while Overall takes Monaro

He ran a “short, sharp” campaign against Liberal candidate Fiona Kotvojs, with a fully-staffed level four Eurobodalla Hospital at the top of his agenda.

Dr Holland plans to keep the pressure on the State Government to ‘open the door at level four’ as promised.

“If they don’t deliver, there will be a huge backlash from the community,” he said.

“The hospital needs to open as a level four with adequate nursing, medical and allied health staff.”

Dr Michael Holland and family

Dr Michael Holland and family. Photo: Michael Holland.

The veteran doctor is no one-trick pony, and he says there are many other issues that he will be lobbying for on behalf of the Bega electorate, including a review of the Moruya bypass route, bush fire recovery for displaced residents and businesses in Mogo and Cobargo as well as the ongoing housing crisis.

“They’re the big things – but there are smaller short and medium-term issues that every MP does for their community,” he said.

“To the north, the people at South Durras want 30 fire-resistant composite telegraph poles, and at Womboyne in the far south, they’ve got a bridge that floods. These are the sorts of things that I will be working on with the community inside and outside of parliament.”

Dr Holland says he was “very pleased to see such a huge swing” against the Liberal Party after expecting a much tighter finish.

“The result is really indicative of the community’s response to the current Liberal Government and reflects their concerns with local health services, the bushfire response and the problems local small businesses are going through dealing with the fires and the COVID pandemic,” he said.

“I think people voted for me because they know I’ve been a voice for them already.”

READ ALSO Natural disaster warning system brought into line by 2022-23 bushfire season

Once his appointment is officially declared by the NSW Electoral Commission, Dr Holland will have just 12 months to prove he’s up to the task before a full state election in March 2023.

“It will be a steep learning curve, but I’m really excited to start working hard for the people that have supported me,” Dr Holland added.

“It’s a historic win for Labor and an amazing honour.”

NSW Labor leader Chris Minns says Dr Holland’s win “sends a big message to the Premier to lift his game, to listen to the people of New South Wales and to be better at his job”.

“This is a big wake-up call for the NSW Government,” he said.

“People in communities like this are a long way from Sydney, but still need to be listened to.”

Dr Holland will take over from long-time Member for Bega Andrew Constance who resigned in October 2021 after holding the seat for 18 years.

Mr Constance will contest the seat of Gilmore for the Liberals in the next federal election.

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Well done, Dr Holland. Let’s hope that Ms Fiona Phillips can make it a double win for the area.

Susan B Owen8:06 pm 18 Feb 22

Congratulations to Dr Holland. The area needs a representative who will work hard for the seat of Bega. The last member was only interested making a name for himself in Sydney and as the transport minister was a complete failure.I hope people remember this and vote for someone like Dr Holland for the Federal seat which encompasses this area.

Congratulations Dr Holland. Well done.
Has Ms Kotvojis had the good grace to concede yet or is that common courtesy, a bridge too far?

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