Fight for Light begins

A FORMER Northern Territory politician and a current Adelaide Plains councillor will face off to become the Liberal Party’s pick to contest the local seat of Light in next year’s state election.

Lyndoch’s Steve Balch and Evanston Garden’s Karen McColl are vying for Liberal pre-selection for the electorate, with the winner to take on incumbent seat-holder Tony Piccolo at the March 2018 election.

Mr Balch, the chairman of the Barossa Valley Liberal Party branch, was a member of the Northern Territory parliament between 1997-2001, while Ms McColl was elected to the Adelaide Plains Council in 2010, and served as its Deputy Mayor in 2015.

A private business consultant with over 30 years experience, and a board member of Carers Australia, Mr Balch said he joined the state Liberal Party after moving to Lyndoch, and sits on the finance committee.

He was formerly the Member for Johnston – an urban NT seat which takes in suburbs in Darwin – for one term before losing his seat, unexpectedly.

“It was an election that we were expected not to lose, and when the ship goes down, a lot of the sailors go down with it,” he said.

Mr Balch said politics was in his blood and something he’s always been interested in, but he only considered nominating when it was recommended to him to do so by colleagues in the party.

Despite living in the Schubert electorate, Mr Balch considers himself part of the Light community.

“We do everything in Gawler; we do all of our shopping there, we do all of our business there, so it’s quite close to Gawler and therefore quite close to the Light electorate,” he said.

“In fact, when that electoral boundaries change was going on, there was every chance that we were actually going to be in the electorate.”

On the other hand, Ms McColl comes from a 20-year career in human resources and has a Diploma in Counselling.

She decided to stay on as an Adelaide Plains elected member when she moved to Evanston Gardens from Lewiston last year. If she wins the pre-selection, it will not hinder her ability to represent her constituents, according to council’s CEO, James Miller.

Ms McColl said she has co-ordinated several community engagement programs, including the Father’s Farm at-risk youth program for the northern region, and cited this, as well as her two sons, as the source of her passion.

“My passion is working with the community and assisting those in need, particularly disadvantaged and at-risk youth,” she said.

A date for the Liberal Party’s pre-selection is still yet to be determined, but is likely to be in April, according to the party’s state director, Sascha Meldrum.

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Matteo Gagliardi joined The Bunyip in August 2016 with almost two years experience in regional print media, having previously worked at a community newspaper in Swan Hill, Victoria. Covering politics, local government and crime, Matteo likes to sink his teeth into hard-hitting issues, but also enjoys spending time getting to know the Gawler community. Matteo also has a passion for science, agriculture and the environment, and has previously worked as a media officer at the Australian Science Media Centre.

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