ALP enlists barrister to challenge Gareth Ward

Thirteen months out from the next State election, battle lines have been drawn in the seat of Kiama with the Labor Party enlisting a former army officer and policeman to wrestle back the once safe Labor seat from Liberal MP Gareth Ward.

Gerroa barrister and father of two Glenn Kolomeitz, 46, was officially  endorsed as the ALP candidate after he was the only person to nominate when nominations closed on Friday.

‘‘It will be a hard fight for us, but it won’t be easy for the other side either,’’ Mr Kolomeitz said.

‘‘The Liberal Party have had a couple years of permanent campaigning, but I am coming in with the strong support of members down here. It will be a clean fight, I play the ball not the man.’’

In 2007 former Labor MP Matt Brown retained Kiama with more than 50per cent of the primary vote.

Mr Brown entered the 2011 election with a margin of 12per cent, but a 19.4per cent swing against Labor saw Kiama become a Liberal seat for the first time.

The seat’s boundaries will shift south of the Shoalhaven River for the 2015 election.

Mr Kolomeitz, an ALP member for the past 11 years, said health will be an issue in Kiama, as will housing and education.

‘‘Trade education is a big issue down here,’’ he said.

‘‘We need to generate trade skills and TAFEs are a fundamental part of that and they have been damaged by the Liberal government.’’

Mr Kolomeitz said he expected the Liberal Party would hang their campaign around roads, in particular the Princes Highway upgrade. However Mr Kolomeitz referenced Paul Keating when he said ‘‘Labor builds a wall, the Liberals come along and put a brick on top and claim it as their wall’’.

‘‘Matt Brown did the hard yards through the planning process on the highway,’’ he said.

On Australia Day Mr Kolomeitz gave the keynote address at the Gerringong ceremony, speaking about the need to place service above self and consider social justice issues such as the alleviation of poverty.

‘‘I have been out speaking with the community and I have listened to their concerns about the Liberals’ slash and burn approach to essential community services.’’

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