The race is on, as the possibility of an early double dissolution election in July sees Richmond candidates off and running on the campaign trail.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull yesterday asked Governor General Peter Cosgrove to recall Parliament early from recess, to sit for three weeks from April 18.
The PM has issued an ultimatum to the crossbenchers and other parties to either pass his legislation to reinstate the Australian Building and Construction Commission or go to an early ballot of both Houses.
Mr Turnbull has also brought the Budget forward by one week, to May 3.
Labor’s Richmond MP Justine Elliot said it was evidence of a PM in panic.
“We have a Prime Minister that is in full panic mode,” Mrs Elliot said.
“Malcolm Turnbull has decided to put his own future ahead of Australia’s future.
“The choice facing locals in this election is clear. More jobs and better services under Labor or more cuts under Malcolm Turnbull and the Nationals. Labor has positive plans for the future and we put people first.”
Mrs Elliot slammed her newly announced opponent, Nationals candidate Matthew Fraser, criticising his previous comments on cutting the aged pension and penalty rates.
“The harsh aged pension cuts in the Abbott 2014 Budget, were praised as ‘especially necessary’by Matthew Fraser because he thinks pensions paid to the aged are, in his words, are ‘unsustainable’,” Mrs Elliot said.
“Matthew Fraser wants to slash the penalty rates of hard working locals. If Matthew Fraser gets his way then thousands of locals working in jobs that rely on penalty rates will have their take home pay slashed.”
But Mr Fraser said he was supportive of any measure that would help get people into employment and keep small businesses sustainable, including penalty rates.
He couldn’t recall his comment from 2014 Budget time referred to by Mrs Elliot, and said no policy had been finalised for cuts to the aged pension.
“I wasn’t even a candidate in 2014,” Mr Fraser said.
“Justine has a very fine art of taking any comments that I make out of context, she’s all about negativity and smear campaigns, and what I’m focussed on is a positive vision to the people of Richmond.”
Other candidates confirmed for the Richmond electorate to date also include the Greens’ Dawn Walker and One Nation’s Neil Smith.
Mr Smith said he was pleased the election plan was finally known.
“I think Malcolm Turnbull has outsmarted everyone because no-one was thinking that he was going to go ahead with the July 2 election date, I don’t think anybody took it seriously until now,” Mr Smith said.
“We think it’s good, I’m at the moment trying to garner support for volunteers to man the polls for me and getting the support for the One National Party.”
Mrs Walker challenged Mr Fraser and Mrs Elliott to reject their parties’ position on accepting donations from fossil fuel companies.