The Labor Party has begun its campaign for the federal seat of Riverina by putting the government on notice.
Candidate Mark Jeffreson was supported by senator Deborah O'Neill on the weekend, when each of them made their case for Labor representation in the region.
Mr Jeffreson said the events of the September byelection proved there was no such thing as a “safe seat” anymore.
“I think what Labor can do is stop taking the area for granted, which is happening to some extent, because it’s been a Coalition seat since the 1980s,” Mr Jeffreson said.
“My message to the government would be prepare to defend this electorate – it’s here to be worked for, and that’s what I’ll be here to do if I’m elected.”
Born in Holbrook, Mr Jeffreson and his wife moved to Wagga in 1987, and currently run a wealth management business.
The Labor Party preselected Mr Jeffreson as its candidate back in October, just days after the Greens announced retired food technologist Michael Bayles would also contest the seat.
If elected, Mr Jeffreson said three of his top priorities in the job would be centered around education, health, and employment.
“Our primary goal is to get education back into a position where people get a fair crack at preparing themselves properly for the workforce,” he said.
“If people have got difficulties finding their place in the community, be it through lack of work, lack of opportunity, or lack of education, that’s when other factors like crime will come into play.”
In June, Wagga’s unemployment rate sat about 6.05 per cent, while the national unemployment rate sat at only 5.40 per cent.
When questioned on exactly how a Labor government would deliver more jobs to the Riverina, Ms O’Neill said it came back to education.
“At the moment, kids can’t get a purchase on their future, and they are simply being driven into despair and a lack of hope,” Ms O’Neill said.
“We are committed to putting 100,000 TAFE places in – we know that TAFE has been absolutely decimated, and it’s pretty hard to get a job if you can’t afford the training.”
While a date for the election is yet to be set, it is expected to take place by May.