STEPPING UP TO THE PLATE: With his nomination for candidacy for the seat of Mallee endorsed by the National Party executive last Monday, MSF chair Daniel Linklater with now face the preselectors on January 19 in Birchip along with five other candidates.

AT a meeting of the National Party’s Victoria leadership in Ouyen on Monday, candidates who had nominated for preselection for the seat of Mallee were officially endorsed.  

The Nationals’ branch members will have a choice of six candidates when they meet to decide who will contest the District of Mallee at the Federal election, likely to be held in May this year.

The endorsed candidates are Toby Heil from Irymple, Bernadette Hogan from Birchip, Daniel Linklater from Gol Gol, Paul Matheson from Mildura, Shane McGrath from Horsham and Anne Webster from Cabarita.

Nationals State president Neil Pankhurst congratulated all candidates on putting their hands up to represent their communities.

“The calibre of these candidates is a testament to the passion and community spirit of our branch members in the Wimmera and Mallee,” he said. “Any one of these individuals would make a great representative to continue The Nationals’ legacy in the District of Mallee.

“The candidates come from different walks-of-life with diverse experiences, but like all National Party members are united by their passion for rural and regional communities.”

Following Andrew Broad’s announcement that he would not be re-contesting the seat of Mallee at the next Federal election, the Mildura Weekly spoke with Mallee Sustainable Farming (MSF) chair Daniel Linklater prior to Christmas to canvass his interest in standing as a candidate – something at the time he said he was seriously considering, and which has been confirmed this week.

“I’ve always had a strong interest in politics, the circumstances of this situation were unexpected and so I am giving it some thought and will discuss this with my wife,” he said at the time.

“Mallee is a huge electorate, and I think it would be enormously rewarding to take on the challenge to represent the people of Mallee and achieve some really good outcomes for the communities that make up the electorate.

“I believe I have a very good grasp of the fundamentals of our regional economy, with its strong primary production and value-adds, which make Mallee a production powerhouse for Victoria and indeed Australia.”

Mr Linklater said that taking on a leadership role with MSF in the last 12 months had been tremendously rewarding.

“Our organisation is projected to deliver our biggest-ever investment in research in the Mallee, and it’s not just the numbers that matter, it’s the impact on the ground,” he said.

“What it will mean is that there is a record amount of money being spent in the Mallee to help our farmers to be more profitable and resilient.”

Mr Linklater studied at Flinders University in Adelaide, where he completed a Commerce Degree in 2004, following which he worked for ABB grain in their Melbourne trading office. 

Mr Linklater has broad-ranging life experience, further added to when he moved back to Mildura in late 2007 to work with his father and brother on the family’s grain-growing property, helping them transform the business into a profitable venture.

“Although I have had a long-time interest in politics, up until now it hasn’t been realistic to participate, but now it is a possibility,” Mr Linklater said. 

Mr Linklater’s wife Megan subsequently gave support to her husband stepping up to the plate, and by close of nominations on January 4, Mr Linklater had submitted his nomination form, and now with the official endorsement of his candidacy, the countdown to the preselection will no doubt be front and centre in his household.

The National Party has released the schedule for a series of Party member forums leading up to the preselection in Birchip on January 19, the first of which will take place in Mildura on January 14, followed by Swan Hill on January 15, Horsham on January 16 and St Arnaud on January 17.