Geoff Howard to stand again in Buninyong

Veteran Labor MP Geoff Howard will contest the newly created seat of Buninyong at next year’s election. LABOR’S team looks set for next year’s state election, after veteran Ballarat East MP Geoff Howard announced he would contest the new seat of Buninyong.

There had been some speculation Mr Howard may step down at the next election, however, the former school teacher committed yesterday to running again.

It will be Mr Howard’s fifth election when Victoria goes to the polls next November, after he was first elected to the parliament during Labor’s victory in 1999.

Should Mr Howard win and serve out a full term, it will make him one of Ballarat’s longest serving lower house state MPs.

With Ballarat West MP Sharon Knight also committed to running again, Labor’s preselection ahead of the election appears a foregone conclusion.

Victorian opposition leader Daniel Andrews has publicly backed both Mr Howard and Ms Knight and it would be highly unlikely for someone to challenge a sitting MP.

With both seats on a slim margin, the spotlight now moves to the Liberal Party to see who they preselect to take on Labor.

Premier Denis Napthine said last week that he believed the process would take place by February-March next year.

Mr Howard had spent the past few months weighing up whether to run again, particularly with the recent redrawing of the electoral boundaries formally adopted in October.

The changes will see parts of Mr Howard’s seat, such as Kyneton and Daylesford, taken out and replaced with Sebastopol, Smythesdale and Haddon.

Mr Howard said he had consulted people about whether he should recontest the seat and was encouraged by their responses.

“The overwhelming view of those I have consulted is that I am the best person to represent the people in the Buninyong electorate,” he said.

He said he was “more committed than ever” about working in the interests of the region.

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