A FORMER soldier who served in Afghanistan for the British army before joining the wine industry and moving to Wahgunyah last year is the Liberal Party's candidate for Indi.
Ross Lyman will seek to defeat Independent member for Indi Helen Haines in this year's federal election for the North East Victorian seat.
He has been preselected following the withdrawal of original Indi Liberal candidate Meredith Rowan in November due to personal reasons.
Mr Lyman joined the Liberal Party in the last 12 months and said he had been inspired to stand for parliament by the actions of Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews in response to COVID, the rebirth of Taliban control in Afghanistan and witnessing supply chain issues through his job.
"All of those factors led me to wanting to be more involved and to do something," he said.
Born and raised in Melbourne, Mr Lyman had his first taste of the North East in the late 1990s when he undertook alpine warfare exercises on Mount Hotham while in an army commando reserves unit.
He graduated from Melbourne University in 2002 with a Bachelor of Arts specialising in languages and history.
Following a shift to England, Mr Lyman joined the British army and became part of the Gurkhas and served in Nepal and Afghanistan, where he was embedded with the local military in Helmand province.
Since returning to Australia in 2010 he has had various jobs and been involved in the wine industry from 2013, working for Treasury Wine Estates and McWilliams.
Mr Lyman moved to Wahgunyah at the start of last year to be close to his daughter, 6, and son, 5, who live with their mother at Wangaratta.
He now works as a supply chain manager covering liquor and groceries.
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Mr Lyman is upbeat about his chances of defeating Dr Haines and returning Indi to Liberal Party representation for the first time since 2013.
"I've been speaking to a lot of people in the electorate, a lot of business owners in particular, and they're wanting change and wanting support of the Liberal Party in Indi and in the region," he said, citing manufacturing and tourism as particular concerns.
"I think with my experience of business and military my chances are pretty good."
Asked about the federal government's handling of COVID which has seen it flat-footed on vaccine and rapid antigen testing kits, Mr Lyman was defensive.
"This is a once in a 100-year pandemic and unprecedented and a lot of governments haven't been in the position to scale up and deal with this and even with Omicron we didn't expect this at the end of last year that this would be how 2022 would be starting," he said.
"The government has been doing the best it can given the circumstances."
Mr Lyman added "yes we've got a little bit of negative media about RA tests but that will disappear in two to three weeks" as children's vaccination rates jumped.
Asked where he stood on a federal corruption watchdog, which Dr Haines has pushed through her own bill, Mr Lyman was dispassionate.
"I fully support there being integrity within parliament and there's a number of oversight committees," he said.
"I support any kind of approach in that regard but there are other priorities that should be looked at as well."
Mr Lyman is hopeful Prime Minister Scott Morrison will come to Indi during the campaign, as he did in 2019 when he made two visits in eight days to support the Liberal candidate Steve Martin.
A campaign office for Mr Lyman will open in Wangaratta today where he will make his public debut as Liberal candidate.
A shopfront is also expected in Wodonga to promote Mr Lyman.
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