The electorate of Ballarat is set for its tightest contest in 12 years, with lawyer Sarah Wade standing as the main contender to take the seat from sitting Labor member Catherine King.
Wade is Principal and sole legal practitioner for Employers Legal, a firm focusing on employment law previously known as Wade Lawyers.
She worked for 10 years as a staffer to Inga Peulich, former Cabinet Secretary in the Victorian government led by Denis Napthine, before returning to university to study law in 1999. In 2003 she was admitted to Legal Practice in the Victorian Supreme Court.
Wade entered the election race because she felt limited in what she could do for the small businesses that she worked with. “I just felt that as a lawyer I could only go so far and I really wanted to take it a little bit further,” she said.
Wade is new to the Ballarat community so raising her profile with voters has been a priority during the campaign.
“I’ve really loved getting out and meeting people,” said Wade. “I’ve learned a lot about the people and what they need and what they want.”
“My message has been from day one that I am proud to be part of Malcolm Turnbull’s team,” she said.
When asked by UniPollWatch what she wanted to specifically achieve, Wade repeated the Liberal party’s mantra of “jobs and growth”, but did not spell out how that would translate into action in Ballarat.
“We’re looking at jobs and growth, I know we’ve heard that before, but jobs and growth is really resonating with the people,” she said. She suggested small business as her number one priority for Ballarat, citing the Coalition’s tax incentives and the PaTH employment program for young people as important for delivering more jobs through small businesses.
Other issues include infrastructure, the use of the illegal drug known as ice, as well as the Victorian government’s controversial handling of the Enterprise Bargaining Agreement (EBA) between the United Firefighters Union and the Country Fire Authority.
“This is a federal issue, we are talking about an EBA being lodged in [the] Fair Work [Ombudsman],” she said. But when asked what specifically the federal government could do, Wade said it “would be up to the Prime Minister at the end of the day,” declining to offer a legal perspective on how the Commonwealth could intervene.
Wade refused to be drawn on her rival Ballarat candidates, not even her main opponent. “I don’t have anything to say in relation to [Labor's] Catherine King, no.
“I’m not concentrating on Catherine King or [Greens candidate] Alice Barnes or anybody else.” she said. “What I’m concentrating on is my campaign and I’m concentrating on the people of Ballarat.”