Former Member for Eden-Monaro, Dr Mike Kelly, has announced that he will be putting his name forward for pre-selection to re-contest the seat he held from 2007-2013.
Dr Kelly says that after eight months of weighing up his future while working as a policy advisor to Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, a “brutal Budget” and what he sees as a “total lack of passion and commitment to our region and community” by the new Federal Member, Dr Peter Hendy, were among the key factors in his decision.
He said he believes that, under the current Government, Australia will become “a vicious Darwinian landscape where it is the survival of the wealthiest with a marginalised underclass”.
“I have been mulling this over for eight months and thought very carefully about it,” Dr Kelly wrote on his Facebook page on Tuesday night.
“My mind has been made up in the last few weeks watching the Commission of Audit and this brutal Budget, on top of everything else we have seen from the Abbott Government.
“I have also watched Peter Hendy as our Member and been appalled by his total lack of passion and commitment to our region and community.
“As a result I have decided to put my name forward for pre-selection to re-contest Eden-Monaro.
“I will not sit idly by while this region is savaged and its future stolen.
“I also want to take a stand against the sort of Australia Abbott and Hendy want us to become.
“It would be a vicious Darwinian landscape where it is the survival of the wealthiest with a marginalised underclass.
“If successful in pre-selection I will be asking you to help me restore us to the Australia we want to see and to get us back on track to unlocking the extraordinary potential of our region and people.”
The news has been well-received by Kelly’s supporters, with the announcement on his Facebook post already having received 1272 likes, 203 comments and 137 shares by lunchtime on Wednesday.
Speaking about the Budget at a packed dinner at Littleton Café in Bega on Friday night, Dr Kelly was extremely critical of the Budget, saying the Government is displaying “twisted priorities”.
He deplored the cuts to education and health, the “earn or learn” provisions, the changes to Medicare, pharmaceutical benefits and pensions, and said the Budget would create more imbalance between city and regional areas.
He also called cuts to the Veterans’ Affairs budget “a breach of faith”, and said the 16,000 public service jobs to be slashed in Canberra would put a dent in the number of holidaymakers visiting the Far South Coast.
“Also, all the progress we had made on renewable energy in Australia and this area in particular; it's all been pulled from under us,” he said.
“It is now time for us to rediscover our values as Australians, to be creative and make sure that there are good policies in place to give our kids a promising future.”