By Michael Giles

THE Maffra community, we are told, are “getting right behind” their candidates for the Gippsland position on the Murray Goulburn board.
And good luck to them.
But this isn’t a case of the Parrots playing their long-time rivals the Maffra Eagles for a place in the Gippsland League grand final.
No, there’s potentially a lot more at stake here.
After the untimely death of the highly-regarded former Leongatha representative, Max Jelbart, we still have the Yanakie-based Phillip Tracy at the head of the MG table.
And that’s very important.
But after the machinations of last season and the intensely unpopular clawback provisions that were enacted, it would be fair to say that his position was less secure than it was.
Once the biggest plant in the MG fleet, Leongatha has slipped well behind Cobram in the level of output and product mix, and we certainly wouldn’t want to see it slide any further from view by not having local representation on the board.
And while MG will ultimately make its decisions on the commercial imperatives, there’s no doubt that having a South Gippsland-based champion at the table would make a difference; potentially a very big difference to the town of Leongatha and for the competitive nature of the supply scene locally.
It goes without saying that having a modern, vibrant, go-ahead milk plant in Leongatha is absolutely essential to the local economy.
Fortunately South Gippsland suppliers to MG have two very good candidates from which to choose, Welshpool’s Kelvin Jackson, a dairy farmer and former member of the Bonlac board, and Leongatha’s Bernie Lubitz, who has pledged to remove the clawback provisions from the company’s constitution, among other things.
The beleaguered board of MG has come out and endorsed Maffra’s Tim Dwyer and Kelvin Jackson for the role but has also noted that any of the four candidates, who receive the highest votes, will be accepted at the AGM in October.
The ballots come out on Friday, August 12 and local farmers are urged to have a thought for the townsfolk and workers at Leongatha when they cast their vote for one of the local candidates; Kelvin Jackson or Bernie Lubitz.