By YASEMIN TALAT
GELLIBRAND remains a safe Labor seat despite a seven per cent swing to the Liberals in the weekend’s Federal election.
Labor candidate Tim Watts, who replaced long serving MP Nicola Roxon, claimed 46 per cent of first preferences and 66 per cent of votes on a two-party preferred basis.
However he watched on as Liberal candidate David McConnell managed a swing of 7.34 per cent.
“It’s a great honour to represent so many passionate Labor supporters in this area,” Mr Watts told Star following his success.
“It’s a humbling experience giving yourself to the voters.”
Labor managed to comfortably hold on to all five seats in the western suburbs despite the Liberal Party’s overall victory.
“Today is the first day of the job of getting Labor back into government,” Mr Watts said.
Mr Watts said Labor’s infighting was one of the reasons behind the Coalition victory.
“We need to get our own house in order, get unified and focus on getting Tony Abbott out of the Lodge,” he said.
Mr Watts said a close eye needed to be kept on the impact the Abbott Government would have on jobs in Melbourne’s West, especially at Toyota in Altona and the Williamstown shipyards.
“I think it’s important I continue to be a voice for those jobs in government and make sure Tony Abbott doesn’t abandon those workers,” Mr Watts said.
Making sure Prime Minster Tony Abbott kept all his promises would be a priority for Labor, Mr Watts said.
“I think an Abbott Government would face significant challenges in honouring the promises it’s made during this campaign and it’s our job as the opposition to hold them accountable for that,” he said.
“The issues that are important to the Labor Party are important to the people in Labor’s West,” he said.
“They want a government that will stand up for their jobs but will also make the investments for our schools and children and make the country a fairer place in the future.”
Mr Watts, who does not currently live in the electorate, will be moving into the neighbourhood in the near future.
He said he wanted to be accessible in the community and present amongst the activities of the community.
“I want to be hard working local member who is a familiar face in the community,” Mr Watts said.
“I’m a believer than politicians have two ears and one mouth and they should use them in the proportion, so I will be in the community listening very carefully to the views of the voters.”
The seat of Gellibrand covers suburbs including Albion, Altona, Altona Meadows, Altona North, Ardeer, Brooklyn, Footscray, Footscray West, Kingsville, Maidstone, Newport, Seaholme, South Kingsville, Sunshine, Sunshine West, Spotswood, Tottenham, Yarraville and Williamstown.