EMPLOYMENT, cost of living, social tolerance and transport are shaping up as the big issues in Holt in the lead-up to the federal election on September 7.
Four candidates are vying to represent Holt, which takes in Endeavour Hills, Doveton, Eumemmerring and Hallam.
Labor’s Anthony Byrne holds Holt by a 14 per cent margin.
Challenging Mr Byrne are Liberal Ricardo Balancy, Greens candidate Jackie McCullough and Palmer United Party candidate Bobby Singh.
Mr Balancy said a Coalition government would lower taxes and boost employment. His campaign will focus on jobs, support services, curbing drug and alcohol abuse, community safety and improving traffic on the Monash freeway
“The main thing people are worried about is jobs,” Mr Balancy said. “Businesses are limiting working hours, companies are closing down and this is putting pressure on families. People are living on a very bare margin, particularly in lower socio-economic areas such as Doveton.”
Mr Balancy, who worked for the Taxation Office in Dandenong for many years, last week began a Walk for Disability with Casey mayor Amanda Stapledon.
“As well as supporting people with disabilities this is a fact-finding mission for me,” he said.
During his time as president of traditionally Mauritian soccer club, Mr Balancy was recognised for creating a multiculturally inclusive constitution and said he was sensitive to the needs of people from all walks of life.
“Sixty per cent of the people in our area are of different ethic origin,” he said. “My strength is understanding their needs and the people have embraced me.”
Registered nurse Jackie McCullough hopes the Greens’ election messages will resonate in Holt. Ms McCullough grew up in the Seymour area and said she had worked in shearing sheds and on farms since she was a child.
“I care deeply for public health and community well-being,” she said. “I want to ensure everyone has access to health services, education, transport and a sustainable economy and environment.”
Ms McCullough said job security, education and skills training, access to reliable public transport, social equality and mental health were the big issues for Holt voters.
“Working in the health field I see the gaps in our health system,” she said. “The current system cannot adequately manage the demand.”
Neither Mr Byrne nor Mr Singh responded to The Dandenong Journal’s request for an interview.