SUBJECT:  Launch of campaign for Jadon Mintern for State seat of Morwell; Victorian State Election; Free Trade Agreement.

JOEL FITZGIBBON:  [inaudible] Jadon is a very good candidate who is working exceptionally hard, and the Local Member has from our perspective taken this seat for granted so I am here to help Jadon win this seat.
JOURNALIST:  Do you think the Victorian Labor Party is doing enough to try to win seats in regional Victoria, I mean they have taken time to place other candidates in Gippsland seats, in particular.  It just doesn’t seem they are having a real crack at it.  Are you of that opinion?
FITZGIBBON:  Well the Labor Party’s record around rural Australia generally, has been patchy.  I have been happy to concede that and one of my jobs is to ensure that we do better in the future.  But I have to say our performance in Victoria has been quite good from my perspective and we have got a very good candidate in Jadon, I think that’s evidence of that. 
JOURNALIST:  In wider Gippsland though, just this week, because Labor could not actually find anyone to contest the seat of Gippsland South against the Deputy Premier Peter Ryan, they have actually brought someone in from Melbourne to contest the seat.  Is that good enough?
FITZGIBBON:  Well, one of my jobs is to ensure the Labor Party is focussing as much as it should be on rural seats, that would in turn bring contestability and improve our chances of winning those seats, and of course good candidates come when your seats are winnable and Morwell is a very good example, and as a result we do have a very good candidate here.
JOURNALIST:  How early does planning start for an election and would Labor not have found candidates for these seats earlier?
FITZGIBBON:  Planning should be on-going, all along the political cycle.  Has the Labor Party ever made mistakes?  Yes of course it has. But one thing it can’t be accused of is taking rural seats for granted, which is what I see here in terms of the National Party.  Both in the Federal Seat of Gippsland and in the local State seats.  And I’m very pleased that the Labor Party has now shown more focus on country seats and in doing so is producing very good candidates like Jadon.
JOURNALIST:  [inaudible] it is very nice to see you here today, should other people from the Party and Victoria to be here to support Jadon in his campaign as well, I mean I know they can’t be everywhere at once but we haven’t seen a lot of Daniel Andrews in this area?
FITZGIBBON:  Well, they can’t be everywhere at once, I know the Victorian Party, with its limited resources, is doing its very best in what is a very, very tough campaign.  But I am here, because I do believe Jadon can win this seat and I am here to ensure I do everything I can to help him do so.
JOURNALIST:  And just a question, a bit out of left field, from one of your portfolios, Agriculture; how is a Free Trade Deal with China going to benefit particularly regional Victoria?
FITZGIBBON:  A Free Trade Deal with China should benefit rural and regional Victoria there is no doubt about it, but it needs to be the right trade deal.  We are concerned that Tony Abbott is rushing this process in order to steal the trophy at the G20.  We want the right deal, not an early deal.  Thank you.

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