MONASH Federal MP, Russell Broadbent, turns 70 later this year.
But you’re never too old to set a new goal.
Or so it seems.
Mr Broadbent has just won preselection to be the Liberals’ candidate at the next federal election, to be held between August 2021 and May 2022, meaning he’ll be almost 72 by the time the election comes around.
But to paraphrase Ronald Reagan at 73 in 1984; he’s unlikely to make age an issue or taunt his rivals about their youth and lack of experience!
A veteran of 11 general elections, this will be his 12th, but he never takes anything for granted after losing on three occasions.
“Yes, the party’s made that decision. I think I’ve got a little interview to go through first but that’s only a matter of going through the process. But yes, I’ll be the Liberal Party candidate at the next election and hopefully I’ll be successful,” Mr Broadbent said last week.
“It’s great to have the opportunity to go on. I don’t think I’ve been as fit and healthy as I am right now or more able to do my job so I really look forward to supporting the government and representing the people of Monash over the next five years.
“But there are some very challenging times ahead. My farmers have been having a terribly tough time lately as have farmers right across the state. There are water issues right around the Murray Darling Basin that need to be sorted. There’re issues around supporting our farmers especially in Gippsland where they’ve been affected by fires. And the fact that the fires have gone through, there’s a lot less feed about.
“There’s a whole lot of issues that we need to address that we’ve got to look after. We’ve got to make food security our number one priority.”
Mr Broadbent paid tribute to his parliamentary neighbour Darren Chester for leading the government’s response to the bushfires in East Gippsland.
Drawing on his experience as an active fire fighter on Ash Wednesday in 1983 and the experiences of the community around his hometown of Pakenham on Black Saturday, he said people would be going through very difficult times now that East Gippsland was moving from defence to recovery.
“Even today we still have thousands of kilometres of fire front that we are dealing with, so the rain has been great, but we could do with some more. The only thing that will put those fires out is some more rain or they burn themselves out. So, there’s still a long way to go.”
He paid tribute the CFA volunteers in particular from this area who had answered the call and all those who had donated or were helping with the recovery.
Despite never serving as a Minister, mostly because of his principled stance on a range of issues, including coming out against the mandatory detention of asylum seekers, he is nonetheless a highly respected, influential Member of Parliament as chair of the House of Representatives Standing Committee of Privileges and Members’ Interests, and in many other behind-the-scenes roles.
He said he supported shifting funding away from the ‘Building Better Regions Fund’ to bushfire response for a year.
He rated the government’s support of Bass Coast Health’s developments in Wonthaggi and Phillip Island, led by Greg Hunt, as highly significant.
And he listed the West Gippsland Hospital as his number one priority for state and federal funding.
Will he be in office to see a new hospital finally built for Warragul and Drouin? He certainly hopes so.
“Given the amount of growth in the area,
especially at Drouin, it’s got to come.”
This week he’ll be meeting with representatives of Kawasaki to make progress on the Latrobe Valley’s coal to hydrogen project.