Benambra? Not for me this time, says Eric Kerr

Wodonga councillor Eric Kerr.
Wodonga councillor Eric Kerr.

WODONGA councillor Eric Kerr has ruled himself out of this year’s state election race.

Cr Kerr, a Labor party member, yesterday put to rest speculation that he might put up his hand for Benambra.

“I’m definitely ruling it out this year,” he said.

“I’m going to enjoy the council job a bit longer yet.”

But Cr Kerr said he would be helping with the campaign for the successful candidate, who might be his fellow councillor Lisa Mahood, if she decided to nominate.

Ms Mahood had nominated for Labor pre- selection for the upper house, alongside former parliamentary candidate Zuvele Leschen, former Wangaratta councillor Lauren McCully and Benalla’s Rowena Allen — but all four women were overlooked in favour of two men from Melbourne, former lower house MP Steve Herbert and Daniel Mulino, a former policy adviser to Opposition Leader Bill Shorten.

There are appeals under way based on claims the upper house pre-selection breached the party’s affirmative action rules.

The party’s returning officer has refused to declare the ballot as there were not enough female candidates, despite rules stating women must fill at least 40 per cent of winnable seats.

Labor has yet to open pre-selection for Benambra, Ovens Valley or Euroa, but several potential candidates are reportedly readying nomination forms.

Mrs Leschen said she suspected party headquarters was waiting until the upper house question was settled, and if the appeal was unsuccessful some of those candidates might be considered for the lower house instead.

“Because we do have some very qualified candidates for the upper house, my feeling is until that’s resolved there has been a reluctance to announce anything in the lower,” she said.

Mrs Leschen said she and Ms McCully would likely consider running for Ovens Valley, but she admitted she might be “too old for that now”.

“I never rule out anything but I would rather see someone younger who can commit to at least a couple of elections,” she said.