Dan Tehan, the sitting Member, is Minister for Veterans Affairs, Minister for Defence Material, Minister for Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC.
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Wannon is home to many iconic tourist destinations, including the Great Ocean Road, the Grampians, the Twelve Apostles and the Logan’s Beach Whale Nursery.
As one of the country’s largest food bowls, the electorate fuels the Victorian people and the national economy. Its manufacturing sector is vast and lucrative, and it is the birthplace of some notable Australians (including Reg Ansett, Malcolm Fraser, Allan Marsh and Dave Hughes).
Wannon’s electoral boundaries lie within Victoria’s Western district, traversed by the Princes, Hamilton and Glenelg highways. The Western district rose to prosperity ‘on a sheep’s back’.
Today, fertile volcanic soils and reliable rainfall sustain the electorate’s primary industries - beef and dairy cattle, prime lamb, fine wool, grain and fodder. A quarter of the nation’s milk is produced within the district, and the city of Warrnambool is home to one of the country’s largest meat processing plants.
Forestry and fishing are also economic mainstays, with one of Australia’s few deep-water ports located in Portland. Portland exports grain, dairy products and live sheep. It is also the world’s largest exporter of woodchips.
Wannon’s manufacturing sector generates billions of dollars annually. Milk processing occurs in Allansford, Koroit, Cobden, Camperdown and Dennington. Milk powder and other products are exported to Asia and the Middle East. Other significant manufacturing includes aluminium production (near Portland), mineral processing at Hamilton and wind turbine fabrication and assembly at Portland.
Warrnambool functions as the Western District’s service centre and benefits from tourist spending along the coast. It is home to less than 36,000 people but attracts over 700,000 visitors annually. Presently, the city is rallying to protect Deakin University’s Warrnambool campus, which has been deemed as economically unviable.
Typically, Wannon’s towns and cities lack social diversity. Nearly 88 per cent of constituents are Australian- born and approximately 93 per cent speak English only. Three-quarters of the population is religious, with a 25 per cent identifying as Catholic.
Sixteen per cent of constituents derive an income from agriculture, forestry or fishing. The region reports chronically low numeracy, literacy and school attainments rates.
Wannon’s Year 12 completion rates are among the worst in the state. This fuels a reliance on health, community and social services . Wannon’s youth face significant health risks and social disadvantage, and often struggle to transition into work.
Wannon’s most pressing political issues typically relate to Portland – a town of approximately 11,000 people which sits within the Glenelg Shire. Despite its low and declining population, Portland remains economically and politically significant.
Infrastructure spending is undoubtedly the most contentious issue effecting Wannon this election.
Currently, the Princes Highway duplication extends to Colac (which sits within the marginal seat of Corangamite). Local government, industry and community leaders are pushing for the duplication to extend west of Colac (into the safe Liberal seat of Wannon).
Regional leaders have also lobbied the federal minister for Infrastructure and Transport, requesting that the Princes Highway itself be included in the National Land Transport Network so any improvements could attract federal funding. Increased tourism, agriculture and manufacturing place a significant burden on the region’s arterial roads, which VicRoads has deemed the worst in the state.
Clearly, Wannon is vital to the lifeblood of the nation. However commentators and constituents alike suspect this blue ribbon seat is largely inconsequential to the upcoming federal election. Voting patterns here are predictable, and constituents are unlikely to be seduced or deterred by election promises.