ORANGE’S Labor Party branch is due to meet tonight to call for nominations to oppose member for Orange Andrew Gee at the state election in March, but there are mixed views on the successful candidate’s chance of victory.
Branch vice-president Joe Maric confirmed members would meet to discuss candidates and call for nominations and one name had already come to the fore.
“If there are other candidates, we’ll have to have a pre-selection, otherwise we’re pretty clear on who’s going to be the candidate,” he said.
“It’s a safe seat, there’s no doubt about it and the local branch has not been effective in getting their message across in the last couple of years.
“When you look at what’s happening federally and the last few months where you’ve had premiers resigning, people are getting more and more disillusioned with the process and that’s an opportunity to get our message out there.”
Mr Maric said increased policy input from the branches would lead to more country policies and give Labor a better chance in Orange.
“Once we promised a hospital at Cudal and we got four extra votes in Cudal, that’s how hard it is - the Nationals can deliver nothing and they still get the votes"
However, former Labor candidate and Orange councillor Glenn Taylor said winning Nationals pre-selection in Orange meant a job for as long as the candidate wanted it.
“Labor governments funded a $290 million hospital, the Northern Distributor Road, the police station, the PCYC, and the Macquarie pipeline and yet people still don’t back us,” he said.
“Once we promised a hospital at Cudal and we got four extra votes in Cudal, that’s how hard it is - the Nationals can deliver nothing and they still get the votes.”
Fellow former candidate and councillor of 25 years Trevor Jaeger ran under Neville Wran and Barry Unsworth and reported similar results - an expected high vote in his wife’s home town resulted in an extra two votes, while a promise from Borry Gartrell to upgrade the timber bridge near Canowindra gleaned an extra seven.
“Neville Wran made the comment that it was an embarrassment, the amount of money we would have to spend to win the seat of Orange,” Mr Jaeger said.
“Bob Carr once said anyone who ran for the seat of Orange deserved a [Victoria Cross] - it’s so disappointing.”
Former candidate Tim Sullivan believed the party needed to back a young candidate through multiple elections to improve Labor’s fortunes.