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“He’ll get a vote-shock”: Goulburn Labor Ready for Federal Election Fight

Goulburn Labor President, Jason Shepherd. Credit: Supplied

With the federal election looming large, the local branches of political parties all over Australia have been gearing up for a battle – even when the chance of victory is slim. In Goulburn (Hume electorate), Labor faces a hard battle against Federal Energy Minister Angus Taylor and a tenured Coalition base of support.

The Hume electorate hasn’t been represented by a Labor candidate for almost 45 years, but senior engineer and Goulburn Labor Branch President Jason Shepherd says that the party has worked hard to build trust with the community over the last few years and that Labor is ready to take the fight to Mr Taylor.

Mr Shepherd also convenes Goulburn’s ‘Politics in the Pub’ events

Q: The Hume area has been a staunchly Liberal electorate for a long time. 1965 was the last time that Labor held a seat that represented the Goulburn community. How does Goulburn Labor combat such a long entrenched political base?

A: I think it’s about getting back to the basics of Laborwhat it’s all about is getting involved, over the last eight years or so, I’ve been the president of Goulburn Community Consultation Committee for Health in New South Wales, so getting involved at that level. Helping set up Angels for The Forgotten which has since shut down because of lack of funding. We created a food bank, we actually set up a food bank and helped them set that up as well. We’ve got the unions involved, we also energised the local Goulburn District Unions, so we’ve worked together with them to get things happening.

We got involved at a lot of different levels, whether donating blood, meals on wheels, any number of community things that we got involved in and stuck in with.

I think these things are really fundamental to getting the community’s trust back, by actually doing stuff at a local level, actually having an effect and helping people in their daily lives.

Q: You’ve obviously seen Labor through a lot of those dark times, with the leadership spills and a candidate with no connection to the electorate. As well as rebuilding Labor’s presence, how do you go about rebuilding that sense of trust in the community?

A: I think that people have always trusted Labor, it’s just they haven’t seen our core values in action.

Q: Goulburn Labor is facing very difficult battle up ahead, Labor will be up against Energy Minister, Angus Taylor, a cabinet minister with a lot of conservative backing and support behind him. How does Goulburn Labor plan on fighting that uphill contest?

A: I think Angus is making himself a target because climate change is a huge issue, everybody goes on about how you can’t blame one bushfire, you can’t blame one flood, you can’t blame any of these things on climate change, but when you put these things on record together you get a pattern. All the scientists tell you what’s going on, all the insurance companies are out there backing and defending against climate change, all the banks are doing it as well. Even the power companies are getting ready for climate change.

It’s not only Labor that’s going to be having a go at him, he’s also got a rake of highly visible independents coming out of the woodwork, he’s going to have GetUp! all over him, he’s going to have people like Greenpeace after him, he’s going to have international bodies coming after him as well.

It’s going to be quite an interesting election run-up, I don’t think he’s realised what he’s doing, because he’s backing in this coal and this carbon emission and climate destroying technology when this region is full of renewables, we have some of the biggest wind farms around when wind farms are very high-employment, we have solar farms, we tried to get one in Goulburn but we couldn’t get federal funding for it, it’s ridiculous.

I think he’s backed himself in a corner because he’s got this local, national and international focus being drawn on him because he’s backing something that no-one could back, he’s backing the unbackable, he’s backing something that’s literally destroying the planet and making the futures of my children and [Goulburn’s] children less like it should be.

But I think climate change is going to be a key part of this and if all of these parties and all of these action groups and all of this international pressure comes to bear, he can find himself in a really difficult situation.”

Mr Shepard’s letters to the editor are a frequent feature of the local

Q: Do you think that’ll lead to Angus being unseated or do you think it’ll be more about sending a major message?

A: I think he’ll get a vote-shock, hopefully we can get him or get very close, I don’t have high expectations, but it’ll be a massive swing and a massive shock to federal Liberals.

I’ve got conservative friends here in Goulburn and they’re just saying ‘we’re not doing anything on climate change and it’s just ridiculous, they’re changing their votes based on that issue alone. Marriage equality, climate change, they’re all community issues that are supported by the whole community, they’re not just red-blue team issues.”

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