Marginal seats in sights as Lib team takes shape

The Liberal Party’s plan to seize marginal Victorian seats off Labor is heating up, with a former federal MP and a successful Vietnamese migrant among those heading the team.
Nanjing Night Net

The party is confident it can win the Victorian seats of La Trobe, Deakin, Corangamite and Chisholm at the next election.

John Nguyen, who lost to acting Speaker Anna Burke in 2010, is running again in Chisholm.

A bitter preselection battle in Corangamite — the country’s most marginal seat — will be resolved on Sunday, while the vote for Deakin will be decided on Saturday.

Mr Nguyen fled Vietnam in 1979, arriving in Australia nine months later with nothing. He is now a partner at Ernst & Young.

”I want to make a contribution. It’s about what I can do for others,”  Mr Nguyen told the National Times.

His parents live in Kensington, an area home to thousands of new migrants particularly from Africa, and Mr Nguyen says his frequent trips to the suburb solidify his desire to create opportunity for others to succeed in Australia.

”I spent five years in New York and saw everyone working towards the American dream. It’s about opportunity for others.”

Mr Nguyen is a firm believer in the Liberal Party’s values of free markets and enterprise, and freedom and responsibility to choose.

He fled Vietnam with his grandparents and siblings when he was five, making a boat trip to a United Nations refugee camp in Malaysia, where he spent nine months before coming to Australia though policies championed by the Fraser government.

But he backs the party’s stance on border security, saying Australia has and always will welcome refugees.

”At some point in time we need to protect our borders,” Mr Nguyen said.

”I get a bit uncomfortable when people say that by supporting these policy I’m against refugees, but it’s not like that.”

Mr Nguyen said hearing a talk from opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison, who said people did not appreciate the moral dilemmas of shaping border protection policy and dealing with refugees, firmed his views.

He said  the party was not  polling as strongly in Victoria  because of the state’s history as a moderate state, citing how multiculturalism was much more vibrant and successful in Melbourne than Sydney.

Running against the high-profile Ms Burke would be a challenge, he said, paying tribute to Ms Burke as a decent person who stood up for him at a hostile question and answer session last election.

”I want to run as a Liberal candidate not as an Asian candidate,” said Mr Nguyen. ”I want people to vote for me on my values, not because where I come from.”

Ms Burke  – who has held the seat since 1998 – said: “I’ll be working hard, as I always have, to look after the interests of the people of Chisholm and to see that Labor is returned to government.

“The major issues which locals are talking to me about are higher education, aged care, open space and urban amenity and the services which affect them everyday.”

Former Liberal MP for La Trobe Jason Wood has also been preselected for the seat, which he held from 2004 until 2010 when he lost by 1600 votes to Laura Smyth.

Nick McGowan, a former peacekeeper and Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu’s 2006 campaign media director, has been preselected unopposed to contest Jaga Jaga.

The seat is held by Families Minister Jenny Macklin, who won in the last election on a two-party preferred vote of 62-38.

Mr McGowan works for Victorian Employment and Industrial Relations Minister Richard Dalla-Riva.

Follow the National Times on Twitter: @NationalTimesAU

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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