Ritson and Stephens declare their hands for Labor Party preselection

KEEN TO LEAD: Vice-president of Labor’s Yass Valley Branch Anna Ritson has put her hand up for preselection. Photo: Toby Vue
KEEN TO LEAD: Vice-president of Labor’s Yass Valley Branch Anna Ritson has put her hand up for preselection. Photo: Toby Vue

Labor vice-president of the Yass Valley branch, Anna Ritson, has nominated to run as a candidate for the state electorate of Goulburn in 2019.

Goulburn-based Labor member and former senator, Dr Ursula Stephens, has also put up her hand.

This means the ALP will now proceed to a ballot of eligible party members. The preselection will be finalised by April 7.

“I know there will probably be one or maybe even two other candidates in the mix, so it looks like we will be going for preselection of the seat - and that will be great.”

Ms Ritson has been a member of the ALP since 2013 and has lived in Yass for 13 years.

“I am at a good point in my life in terms of the ages of my kids and where my career is – to do this,” she said.

“I have the energy to do it. I am still reasonably young – I am looking down the barrel of turning 40 this year.” 

She works for the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare in Canberra. 

“I conduct research and statistics in housing, homelessness, child protection, youth justice, prisoner health and welfare-raised areas - that are mostly state policy responsibilities,” she said.

She said she had come to politics by way of being closely involved in the local community. 

“Some come into politics through their involvement with the unions, or by working at the ALP head office, or working for politicians. That has not been my path,” she said. 

“I have always been involved in the community and this is a good time for me to nominate.” 

Ms Ritson is also actively involved in motor sport in the local region.

Meanwhile, Dr Stephens said she has been travelling around the electorate to gauge the level of support for her stand as the ALP candidate.

NOMINEE: Dr Ursula Stephens has nominated to be a candidate for Labor in the next state election. Photo David Cole.

NOMINEE: Dr Ursula Stephens has nominated to be a candidate for Labor in the next state election. Photo David Cole.

“I have spent many weeks talking to people, both within the Labor Party and in the wider community, about what a campaign for Goulburn should involve,” Dr Stephens said. 

“The Goulburn electorate spreads from Berrima to Boorowa.

“There are different communities of interest, focused on their own issues and challenges, but there is a recurring theme in my discussions.

“That is, that the electorate has been represented by conservative members since 1965, and has been taken for granted because it has never been a marginal seat,” Dr Stephens said.

She said people understood that when they live in a marginal electorate, all parties have to stand up and take notice.  

“The profligate spending by the Berejeklian government on projects across Sydney, to the detriment of regional communities like Goulburn is disgraceful,” she said.

“While our hospital, schools, TAFE colleges and regional infrastructure is in decline, we have yet to see any benefits from the many promises made by this government in 2015 or since.

“No doubt, there will be lots of big dollar promises in the lead up to 2019, but on their performance, people  need to be skeptical about their delivery. 

“Our local member (Pru Goward) seems incapable of advocating for services and projects on behalf of her constituency. She is content to let investment opportunities pass us by and services cut, without a whimper of protest.

“I have been strongly encouraged to contest the seat for Labor again in 2019.  I am visiting the Southern Highlands Branch this week to gain their support for my nomination and will put myself forward as Labor's candidate.  

“I am under no illusion about the difficulties of winning this seat for Labor. It requires changing the hearts and minds of 7000 voters across the electorate. With a twelve month campaign, that is absolutely possible. 

President welcomes candidates

Brendan Forde, president of the Goulburn State Electorate Council and president of the Yass Valley Branch, said both candidates were outstanding candidates.

“I've known both Ursula and Anna for many years.

“They are women with a strong commitment to the Labor cause. I am confident that both have the ability to win Goulburn in the state election next year,” Mr Forde said.

He encouraged other party members to nominate themselves as candidates.

“Other candidates may yet emerge. As president of the Goulburn State Electorate Council, I'd welcome any interested party members to put themselves forward as candidates. The process through which a candidate is preselected will be both open and democratic,” he said.


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