‘I’m as good as a local,’ Labor's city candidate says

EDITORIAL: When locals don't matter

A MELBOURNE-based Labor candidate for a northern Victorian upper house seat yesterday said he was just as qualified to represent the region as a local.

Daniel Mulino has defended his pre-selection to the northern seat, for which he trumped four local women including high-profile Labor members Zuvele Leschen and Wodonga councillor Lisa Mahood.

Mr Mulino, a one-time financial adviser to Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, said he would move to the area in the new year.

He was nominated this week by the party executive, along with another Melbourne man, retiring lower house MP for Eltham, Steve Herbert, to replace seats being vacated by retiring MPs Kaye Darveniza and Candy Broad.

Their names were floated as the likely candidates last week, amid reports the party’s left and right factions were wheeling and dealing to install their favourites.

It followed a decision to not allow party members a vote on pre-selection, a move was met with heavy criticism from Ms Leschen and fellow nominee, Wangaratta’s Lauren McCully who said local Labor members were considering a boycott on next year’s election campaign in protest.

Mr Herbert did not respond to The Border Mail’s calls yesterday.

Mr Mulino said that while local area knowledge played a part in making a good candidate, it wasn’t the only factor.

“I think all the people who put hand up would have represented the area well,” he said.

“But I also have a lot of strengths — I come from a strong policy background and I have experience in community organisations.

“I’ll also move to the region and be really trying to connect with constituents.”

Mr Mulino would not say where his new home would be — “there are a few places we’re looking at”. His wife has family at Mildura.

Mr Mulino has been involved in the Labor Party for many years at all three levels of government — as a councillor at Casey in Melbourne’s south-east, and as an adviser to state and federal governments.

He said much of his policy work had been economic and infrastructure-focused — areas “very relevant to Northern Victoria” in terms of agriculture, education, tourism and development.

Asked why he chose to run in the country, Mr Mulino said the two MPs vacating their seats had offered an opportunity “I was very keen to take advantage of”.

“There are a lot of challenges for the area and I’m very interested in applying my policy development knowledge in Northern Victoria,” he said.

He declined to comment on the party’s decision not to allow a rank-and-file vote.

“I don’t want to get into a running commentary on internal party policies,” he said.

“There is an important debate going on but those are matters for the state secretary.”

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