BY ANDREW MILLER
03 Dec, 2014 10:06 AM
FEDERAL NATIONAL MP’s have played down claims the Victorian election was a poor result for the party.
The party had retained Morwell and had not conceded defeat over David O'Briens Upper House seat of Western Victoria.
Mallee MP Andrew Broad said the election result was just a “blip in the road.”
“If anyone thinks the Nationals are not going to come back fighting, fit and strong in Victoria, they have not studied political history,” Mr Broad said.
“The Nationals are incredibly resilient and have done incredibly well. I am not sure the swing is a little bit of a breeze, blowing the wrong way.”
The Nationals will discuss whether or not to leave the coalition with the Liberal party, which they only rejoined in 2008, this week.
Both Mr Broad and Senator Bridget McKenzie said the loss of Shepparton, to an independent, was disappointing.
Mr Broad said the party retained a strong base in the North-West of the state and introduced new members in Stephanie Ryan (Euroa) and Emma Kealy (Lowan).
“You can look at the story in two ways, the numbers have gone down a bit, but there are some young, bright members who will broaden the party’s policy scope and reach,” Mr Broad said.
“That’s going to be important if they are going to penetrate seats like Bendigo East and Ballarat East.”
There was a strong message for new premier Daniel Andrews.
“I was always disappointed he never visited Mildura since March 2013, as it’s important, as opposition leader, you get across the state and get to know all the issues.
“I hope he is going to govern for all Victoria, and I hope he doesn’t become Premier of Melbourne – Victoria is not Bendigo, Ballarat and Geelong.”
There was now an urgent need to run a balanced budget and build a freight rail link between Mildura and the Port of Melbourne, to boost the export of horticultural products from the region.
“If there was one thing I want that’s necessary, is the future Murray Basin rail link at $220m – that’s equivalent to one and a half railway crossings in Melbourne.”
And Nationals Victorian Senator Bridget McKenzie said the party was not yet prepared to concede it had lost Upper House member, David O’Brien.
“The last election took us almost a week, before they could come to a decision,” Senator McKenzie said.
It appeared Russell North was safe in Morwell, but the community had delivered a message “we would be derelict if we didn’t head it,” Senator McKenzie said.
She rejected claims the party was out of touch with the bush.
“When you look at the billion dollars in the regional growth fund, which leveraged up to $2b and 1800 projects in regional Victoria; that is real money on the ground, delivering real outcomes.
“We are very good at connecting with community in the regions and developing policies and projects to meet our communities needs.
“That’s why the Nationals exist, because of the city centric voice of Labor – Labor did not promise the economic infrastructure regional Victorian needs to grow our food and fibre industries, get it out to port and into the international markets our Federal Government is developing.”
The party needed to look at how it sold its message, in the modern era, she said.
“I think that’s the problem.”
It was now up to peak groups such as the Victorian Farmers Federation to help explain the role the regions played in the state and nation’s economic future, she said.
“What we have got to be is very loud, and very proud of the contribution we make to the economic and social fabric of Victoria,” she said.