YAN Yean is shaping up as one of the most interesting battlegrounds of the 2022 state election, with Labor attempting to fend off a Liberal challenge and retain the seat held by retiring member Danielle Green.
Ms Green announced she would not recontest the seat after representing the electorate for 20 years, leading to a field of nine candidates nominating at this year’s election.
Labor candidate Lauren Kathage and Liberal candidate Richard Welch are considered the frontrunners, with the Greens’ Samantha Mason; Animal Justice Party candidate Ruth Parramore; Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party candidate Mandy Grimley; Labour DLP’s Jack Wooldridge; Shooters, Fishers and Farmers candidate Alexandar Krstic; Freedom Party of Victoria’s Con Bouroutzis; and Family First Victoria’s James Hall also on the ballot sheet.
Ms Green won Yan Yean convincingly at the 2018 election, although the Liberal Party disendorsed candidate Meralyn Klein nine days out from the poll, likely skewing results.
A shift in electoral boundaries could also have an influence, with most of the Wallan township moving into the newly-created Kalkallo electorate and Wandong added from Euroa.
Mr Welch’s bid to win the seat is centred on a $300 million pledge to scrap the planned City of Whittlesea Community Hospital in Mernda and build a larger Plenty Valley Hospital in its place if the Liberal-Nationals Coalition forms government.
Mr Welch also promised $35 million to build a new Whittlesea Police Station that would operate 24 hours a day.
Ms Kathage kicked off her campaign by announcing $10.1 million for Wandong Primary School and $11.7 million for Whittlesea Secondary College, along with $800,000 for upgraded sports facilities at Doreen’s Hazel Glen College.
Both parties committed $130 million for a Hume Freeway diamond interchange and associated upgrade works at Wallan’s Watson Street, adding two south-facing entry and exit ramps to the existing northbound ramps.
Each party also committed a combined $300,000 for lighting and electrical infrastructure at Whittlesea Showgrounds.
Both parties also made significant pledges for the Mernda Regional Sports and Aquatic Centre, with Labor committing $20 million and the Liberals announcing $15 million.
At a candidates’ forum hosted by the North Central Review in Wallan earlier this month, Mr Welch said the cost of living, health, roads and community resources would be his priorities, while Ms Kathage said she wanted to drive down expenses for families through initiatives such as affordable housing, cheaper power and free TAFE and childcare initiatives.
According to Sportsbet, Labor is $1.25 favourite to win Yan Yean, the Liberals priced at $3.80.