20 February 2023

Julia Ham to contest Wagga for the Liberals as Greens' Ray Goodlass launches campaign

| Chris Roe
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Julia Ham

Julia Ham will represent the Liberal Party in the seat of Wagga Wagga at the coming state election.

After much deliberation behind the scenes and one false start, the NSW Liberal Party has named Julia Ham as its contender for Wagga at next month’s state election.

“I just felt there wasn’t enough noise happening, I wanted to get out there and just beat the drum,” she said after confirming her candidacy on the weekend.

It had looked doubtful that the Liberals would be on the ballot after local businessman Richard Moffatt’s bid for pre-selection stalled and the Nationals lobbied hard to be given a clear run in the seat.

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Ms Ham, a former teacher and businesswoman who has served on the Snowy Valleys Council for two terms, said she didn’t want to compromise her local government role by campaigning too early.

“I knew that once I got into the campaign, I won’t be able to work as hard as I do as a councillor for the Snowy Valleys, so I wanted [to announce] with at least time as possible.”

Dr Joe McGirr and Julia Ham

Dr Joe McGirr and Julia Ham during the 2018 by-election campaign. Photo: Wagga TV.

It’s the second time Ms Ham has contested the seat, after stepping into the gap left by disgraced former Liberals member Daryl Maguire in the 2018 by-election.

Dr McGirr ended the party’s 60-year domination of the seat with 59.6 per cent of the vote on a two-party preferred basis while Ms Ham received 40.4 per cent.

“I’ve had four and a half years to research, think, and to really make a considered decision, do I want to represent the Perrottet Government going forward,” she said.

“And I’m happy to do that, but it has been a very considered decision.”

When it comes to the tarnished legacy of the previous Liberal member, Ms Ham said it was old news.

“It’s four and a half years ago, there’s been a lot of water under that bridge and I’m just here to represent Wagga as best as I can,” she said.

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Local issues are top of the agenda and Ms Ham is hoping to fire up more debate around what’s important to Wagga voters.

“Issues like the Gobba bridge, there’s not even a feasibility study for it. There’s not even a date,” she said.

”We’ve got the Special Activation Precinct and Regional Intermodal Freight Logistics Hub there and every time you go over there, there’s another beautiful house being built.

“And what happened in the floods? Three hours to get from one side to the other is ridiculous.

“The Wagga Wagga electorate is filled with great potential, and I want to help unlock the opportunities that would come with more investment in local infrastructure.”

Ray Goodlass

Ray Goodlass has officially launched his Greens campaign. Photo: Chris Roe.

Meanwhile, Greens veteran Ray Goodlass officially launched his campaign with MLC Sue Higginson and local Greens member and Deputy Mayor Jenny McKinnon.

Under the broader issue of environment and climate change and the Greens’ promise to phase out coal and gas mining by 2030, Mr Goodlass said they hoped to establish a koala sanctuary like the one at Narranderra.

“In terms of the Murrumbidgee National Park, Wagga could be one end of a route that connects bit by bit down to Narranderra, so that would provide a riverside route for koalas and be greatly to their benefit and a good tourist boost to Wagga as well,” he said.

Ray Goodlass Greens

Jenny McKinnon, Aunty Cheryl Penrith, Greens MLC Sue Higginson and Ray Goodlass. Photo: Chris Roe.

Mr Goodlass also reiterated his call for a crackdown on gambling, better wages for frontline public service workers and more investment in local infrastructure.

“Duplicate the Gobba Bridge or provide another river crossing,” he said.

“The Inland Rail needs to be rerouted around all population centres, including Wagga, and I think we need a heavy-vehicle bypass for Wagga as well.”

The NSW state election will be held on 25 March.

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