A former fierce contender for Wagga’s once “safe seat” has thrown his hat in the ring ahead of the byelection next month.
“Appalled at the way Wagga has been treated”, doctor Joe McGirr on Sunday announced he would run as an independent candidate ahead of the official voting day on Saturday, September 8.
Doctor McGirr told The Daily Advertiser he hoped to run a strong campaign, with a renewed focus on the community needs he believed had been neglected in recent months.
He said the city’s health needs and the appropriate use of funding would be among his top priorities, in addition to the ever-increasing cost of living and its associated pressures; the reversal of unwanted council amalgamations; the upgrading of regional roads; the effects of drought on local farmers; and the growth of the region.
It follows a close contest against former Wagga MP Daryl Maguire in 2011, with the renowned senior medical practitioner having placed second in the polls.
After Mr Maguire’s “dishonourable” exit from politics this month, Dr McGirr said the NSW seat – an unbroken Liberal Party seat for 65 years – was no longer safe.
Candidate nominations were opened on August 17 and are set to close on August 23.
Early voting will open on August 27, with booths closing less than two weeks later.
“The government is concerned (about Wagga),” Dr McGirr said. “They are clearly worried about the community reaction to what has happened.”
He said residents were also concerned about a “lack of accountability … (the government) just put another liberal in to replace (Daryl Maguire)”.
But focusing on the positives, Dr McGirr said the byelection would be an opportunity to “make the seat count”, ahead of next year’s official state election.
“Putting in an Independent will achieve that,” Dr McGirr said. “It will make the parties hungry to win the seat.”
More to come.