greensVictorian leader of The Greens Greg Barber visited the region last week, confirming the party will put up a candidate for the seat of Gippsland South, which will be vacated by Nationals member Peter Ryan.

WITH a by-election to be called any day, The Greens have made their presence felt in the seat of Gippsland South. Victorian party leader, and Member for Northern Metropolitan Region (VLC) Greg Barber visited the area last week and said key issues in the region could grow the Greens’ vote. “Some people may think it’s a bit of a drag to go back to the polls, but a by-election will certainly put attention on the electorate and local issues,” he said. “The result in Gippsland South won’t change the government, but it will send a message.” Mr Barber said the Green vote had grown significantly in Gippsland South. He said CSG and new coal mines were “a vote changing issue”. “Gas drilling and new coal mines have a lot of people upset,” he said. “This area is traditionally the National and Liberal heartlands, but people are dismayed by the policy directions, and Labor has no stance – other than an enquiry, but I think the result of that enquiry will be how to regulate the industry rather than ban it. “The economy of the area clearly depends on agriculture and tourism, or a combination of the two, and we don’t see how it’s compatible.” Mr Barber said regional votes are turning away from the National Party, and The Greens are providing new ideas that are attracting voters. Among those he said was public transport links, stopping rates capping, and planning issues to protect land. Mr Barber predicted The Greens’ candidate for Gippsland South, who is yet to be formerly endorsed by the party, would have a strong voice in parliament. He rejected the view that The Greens were for metropolitan voters. “The National Party is on the ropes at the moment with only nine MPs,” he said. “The Greens have seven – which is quite a jump. “Sure, we missed out on the regional seats, but not by much – and we’ve got two senators in Victoria. “That shows we’re already representing regional Victoria and one of the best things about all my new colleagues is that I’ve been able to share around the portfolios. “I’ve kept agriculture, ports and regional development, so it means I’ll be able to spend a lot more time outside of Melbourne.” The Greens expect to have a formally endorsed candidate by the end of the week. During the 2014 State Election, The Greens endorsed Ian Onley, who won 9.61 per cent of first preference votes.