By JOHN DOOLEY

MILDURA Deputy Mayor and independent candidate in the November State election, Ali Cupper, PICTURED, officially launched her campaign to become the Member for Mildura today (Thursday, October 25), and had a strong message for the major parties – ‘Mildura deserves its fair share’.

Ms Cupper told the assembled audience of supporters, fellow councillors and other candidates that the election was about the future, and that for far too long Mildura had been neglected and deserved better.

“We don’t ask for special treatment or sympathy, but in 2018 we are simply asking for a fair go – we don’t expect government to do everything for us, that isn’t the sort of community we are, but we want our Government to get the big things right and at the moment there are some big things that aren’t right,” she said.

Ms Cupper said that her campaign really commenced five months ago following the State Budget which ignored our region.

“Once again Mildura was short-changed in another State Budget, this time it was the Andrew’s Labor Government who decided we could wait while the rest of the State was taken care of,” she said.

“A few years back it was the National and Liberal Parties who were doing much the same, so there is a pattern, and regardless of who is in power in Spring Street the story doesn’t change.”

Ms Cupper is a vocal advocate of the Mildura Base Hospital being put back in public hands, something she highlighted in her speech.

“The fact is the big parties are failing us. While Bendigo celebrates the opening of a new $630million hospital, our hospital is the only one in Victoria dedicated to making a profit,” she said. “We don’t need the National’s review or Labor’s survey to tell us there is something very wrong with this.”

Ms Cupper also took aim at the Coalition’s high-speed rail plan which would see most parts of regional Victoria connected to the service.

“While the Nationals promise every other similar Victorian community high-speed rail, with clear funding and timelines, we remain the only region in Victoria without a passenger train,” she said. “Instead they offer us a vague promise with no details, with no dates and no cash, even worse Labor is offering us nothing.”

Ms Cupper said that although the funding contributions received from the Federal and State Governments toward Mildura South Regional Sporting Precinct (one of four Mildura Future Ready projects) were welcome, they fell short of the mark.

“Not surprisingly the major parties want to look like they are on board, and turn up with big cardboard cheques for the photo shoots, but the numbers don’t add up,” she said. “When the photos are done, we realise it’s more of the same – partial funding.”

Ms Cupper said it was time for a change, and that the community shouldn’t fear electing an independent.

“The Nationals have little to offer us but fear. Fear that we won’t have a seat at the table under a Coalition Government, fear that a Labor Government will continue to neglect us, fear that by demanding better we are irritating those in power and will be worse off,” she said.

“The fact is that over the last decade across Federal and State levels, independents have been setting ground-breaking precedence, proving beyond a shadow-of-a-doubt that a strong independent can transform a community’s fortunes, with or without the balance of power.

“The next four years are vitally important to all of us who have a stake in our shared future.

“I hope over the coming weeks you’ll join with me in standing up for Mildura for a real public hospital, for a 1000 new jobs, for our passenger train and for a break for families.

“You may not agree with me on every issue, but you can be sure that I will stand up for Mildura with passion and conviction and consistency. Join with us and demand more on November  24 – it’s time to change the game.”