Cathy Griff has been announced by the Greens as their candidate for the Eden-Monaro by-election. In an historic development for the seat, this means the Liberal Party, ALP and Greens will all be represented by women candidates.
Harden Murrumburrah businessman Matthew Stadtmiller, who does not live in the electorate, also announced his candidacy for the Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party in Cobargo on Monday morning.
Ms Griff, a Tanja resident, is a Bega Valley Shire councillor as is former mayor Kristy McBain who will contest the seat for Labor. Fiona Kotvojs is the Liberals candidate.
Ms Griff has worked in research, policy and advocacy for the Australia film industry. She has a diploma of education, masters of arts, and has been undertaking a PhD. She has a strong social justice background having worked for the Australian Council of Social Service and as a teacher and journalist with Australian Volunteers International in Bougainville.
Mr Stadtmiller is a Hilltops Shire Councillor. He owns, operates and edits the Twin Town Times in Harden Murrumburrah.
He ran for the Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party in the 2019 NSW elections for the seat of Cootamundra, attracting 7,447 first preference votes or 15.7 per cent. Nationals MP Stephanie Cook won the seat with 63.6 per cent of the tally.
Climate change has been identified by the Greens as a key challenge for the region following the devastating summer fires.
“Labor and Liberal candidates are finally acknowledging the role of humans in changing the climate. Sadly, their connections with and donations from the fossil fuel industry mean that neither party is willing to do what science has stressed is essential for a safe future”, Ms Griff said in a statement.
“The community requires a modern political party to confront the challenges we are experiencing at the individual, local, regional and federal levels. The Greens have plans to transition communities into new technology production and manufacturing.
The Greens are calling for the end of native forest woodchipping and for secure employment opportunities in forest management and renewable energy for regional areas. Greens candidate Pat McGinlay attracted 8.8 per cent, or 8715 votes at the last Federal election when he ran for Eden-Monaro.
Mr Stadtmiller also nominated the impact of bushfires and drought on local communities, as well as food security and industry support as key issues.
“Farmers and local communities have been let down across this electorate – they’ve been forgotten by politicians stuck in the Canberra bubble,” he said in a statement.
“Communities have been left high and dry by the Coalition party. Protecting our food security and making sure that those industries that have been hit by the bushfires and now COVID-19 should be the priority for the Government in Eden-Monaro.
“We’re running because we want to give these communities a choice. A vote for the major parties is a vote for business as usual. Enough is enough, it is time the bush got its fair share”, he said.
The Shooters Fishers and Farmers claim that their candidacy will dictate the outcome of the election given the compulsory preferential voting system but are yet to decide on preferences.
The Eden-Monaro by-election was triggered by sitting MP Dr Mike Kelly’s resignation and will be held on July 4.
Other likely candidates include the Liberal Democrats, Christian Democratic Party, the Science Party, the New Liberals and independents including solar farm developer Andrew Thaler, also a past candidate.
There are also questions around how the poll will run under easing COVID-19 restrictions. In 2019, 41 per cent of votes in Eden-Monaro were pre-polls compared to just over 50 per cent cast at polling places. Electoral analyst Antony Green believes that based on the Queensland local government elections, in-person votes could fall to as low as 30 per cent of the total as both pre-polling and postal votes increase significantly.
If the race is a tight one it’s possible this could delay the outcome although the Queensland experience also suggests that in-person voting can be managed safely. The largest polling booths in Eden-Monaro are all located in Queanbeyan and only two took more than 2,000 votes.