THE Victorian Liberal Party has announced local police officer Paul Matheson will be their candidate for the seat of Mildura at the November 26 state election.

With a background in agriculture, Mr Matheson has served in the police force for more than 26 years, during which he earned tertiary qualifications in investigations, business, leadership and management.

He has served on numerous community committees and is currently in his third year as president of the Sunraysia Football and Netball League.

Mr Matheson is passionate about the opportunities and lifestyles on offer in the border and Sunraysia communities.

“We need to promote and support regional living and growth, where we have affordable housing, a strong sense of community, and a better work-life balance,” he said. “In doing so we need to ensure that we have the infrastructure in place.”

The seat of Mildura is a big electorate and the tyranny of distance makes campaigning challenging, something Mr Matheson is acutely aware of.

“I have a good grasp of the electorate and I have a lot of different contacts throughout the region and it’s also one of the reasons that we have made the call early to enable me to go out there and network and meet a broad range of people across the seat of Mildura,” he said.

“I want to understand different issues that we aren’t necessarily aware of especially in the smaller communities.

“What the pandemic has shown is that there are state issues that we are not immune to particularly in regard to taxes, hospital waiting lists, mental health and the impacts on education with our kids falling behind particularly in the reading and writing area.”

Mr Matheson told the Weekly that he was relishing being able offer the constituents of the Mildura electorate the opportunity to vote Liberal again.

“I will be meeting with those Liberal supporters who haven’t had the opportunity to support a candidate for more than 16 years and that will be the key to starting early,” he said.

“The Liberal Party has a vision for local investment and infrastructure development throughout Sunraysia. Our overall aim is to recover and rebuild all of Victoria.”

Mr Matheson’s other priorities include ensuring everyone has access to education, health, jobs, and recreation – without having to leave the region.

“I believe in prioritising environmental health, whether on the farm or the river, while still supporting trade, hospitality and tourism in the region,” he said.

“As an experienced, community-focused leader with strong local connections, I understand the unique challenges for the region.

“I am honoured to be Mildura’s Liberal candidate at the 2022 state election and I can’t wait to talk to the community about their issues and ideas to make our region even stronger.”

Mr Matheson will be hoping to unseat the incumbent independent Member for Mildura Ali Cupper, who defeated The Nationals’ Peter Crisp in 2018 with a narrow margin of 253 votes.

It is likely Ms Cupper’s following has grown with some funding wins for projects in Mildura as well as her hard fought, successful campaign to see the Mildura Base Hospital returned to public administration.

By JOHN DOOLEY