GEOFF HOWARD STATEMENT REGARDING PRESELECTION
With the Labor Party about to open preselection to secure its candidates ahead of the 2018 Victorian State Election, I have decided that I will not be putting my name forward for renomination.
Having had the honour of serving the people of Ballarat East (1999) and Buninyong (2014) in parliament, I believe it’s time to begin a new phase of my life.
I also believe the timing is right to provide the opportunity for a new face to take on the Buninyong seat.
I know there are a number of promising people within Ballarat Labor who could become strong representatives and bring fresh ideas.
Ballarat East was the most marginal Liberal-held electorate in the state prior to my election in 1999.
Few people including me would have believed that I would be here 18 years later and get to enjoy the privilege of choosing my own time to exit public office. I’m pleased that I will leave with Labor’s position here greatly improved from when I was first elected.
I am proud to have been part of the transformation of Ballarat and this region beginning with the election of the Bracks Labor Government in 1999.
I was driven to stand in 1999 because I was concerned about the effect the Kennett Liberal Government was having on our state and particularly on regional Victoria. Funding to schools and hospitals were being cut and our public transport was neglected.
Being part of Bracks, Brumby and now Andrews Labor Governments has turned our region around.
The Ballarat of 2017 is much stronger; we have state-of-the-art schools and health services, with a much improved rail system, and vastly improved public facilities in all towns across my electorate.
This didn’t happen by accident. It took a commitment from Labor governments in partnership with the community to lead this change.
As I travel around Ballarat and through the 20 or more smaller towns across the electorates of Ballarat East and Buninyong, I am reminded about what has been achieved.
In each of those centres, I can see a number of facilities that have been improved including community halls, sporting facilities, health facilities, men’s sheds, roads, fire stations and police stations.
As a former teacher, appreciating the values of education, I’ve been pleased to see the more than 40 schools across my electorates receive major upgrades. I’m excited to have been involved with the development of the new Ballarat Tech School to be opened next year.
With an interest in our environment, I’m also especially satisfied with the Andrews Government’s establishment of the 600 hectare Woowookarung Regional Park in Ballarat East, along with support for local Landcare projects.
I have enjoyed my role in developing policies in my former positions as Parliamentary Secretary for Environment and Agriculture and advocacy across many parliamentary committees including Education and Training; Rural and Regional; and Law Reform, Road and Community Safety.
However, my greatest satisfaction has come from meeting with and working with people across the electorate and assisting so many individuals and advocating on their behalf to make their lives better.
Geoff was also elected to the City of Ballaarat in 1989 serving two terms before amalgamation in 1994. He was then re-elected in 1996 and served a further term on the new City of Ballarat.
On his retirement at the end of next year he will have completed more than 27 years of public life.