Preet for Tarneit

Preet for Tarneit. The slogan says it all. A local small business owner running his solar panels installation business, Preet Singh is taking on the Labor party on November 26 as the Liberal party candidate. Like most of the migrants, he also came in 2005 as a student from Chandigarh, (Punjab) India. After completing Masters in Accounting and doing all sorts of jobs “whatever the opportunities came along the way”, Preet joined the ANZ bank and worked for 10 or years before he was made redundant.

Today, he is in politics, contesting the seat of Tarneit, a safe Labor seat by a huge margin, but he is hoping to do the hitherto unthinkable – unseating Labor and wresting the seat for his party.

Bharat Times spoke to him in an exclusive interview.

Why did you choose politics?

“The reason I joined politics is to help the community out. No such self interest or anything as such”, Preet told Bharat Times.

“I came to Australian in 2005 and  joined the liberal party in 2012. John Howard was the prime minister at the time. His policies, especially around immigration, and the economy, really stuck in my mind. Then I did a bit of more research into what liberals actually stood for and my own values, like they were better aligned to the liberal party rather than labor. “

How was the experience contesting council elections in 2020?

“There was quite a bit of learnings from council election” says Preet.

For him, council elections are quite a challenging experience, “with the number of candidates, they put their hands up like and people making teams and sharing preferences…”

Tarneit pre-selection

Did he have any rival candidates from the Indian community in his pre-selection battle? 

“No one like I was endorsed unopposed”, Preet told Bharat Times.

That was not the complete story. He did not want to mention the fact that Intaj Khan, another Indian community political aspirant had attempted to get in. He had only joined the Liberal Party earlier this year and thus did not have 12 months’ membership required. BT believes Intaj’s attempt to get an exemption was unsuccessful.

I asked Preet if he knew if Intaj Khan had tried?

“I can’t really comment like much on that? But I believe like he did apply. But look, it’s up to the party to disclose anything further, whatever’s happened, you know”, Preet said.

Issues in Tarneit

Preet says, “there’s plenty of issues, – local public road infrastructure, transport infrastructure, like there is only one hospital that serves the entire suburb of suburbs of Wyndham, like it’s, it’s crippled at the moment, and has been like for a very long time as well. The schools are overcrowded, you know, like there is hardly any leisure facilities, especially for people who are living in Tarneit.”

He has got real battle on his hands. The liberal party vote has stayed only between 27 to 32% in the past four elections. That makes his win very difficult. But the Indian community population in the area has increased dramatically during the same period.

The number of first preference votes secured by Indian community candidates in 2020 Council elections, added together gives a total of more than 24,000 votes.

If all or majority of those vote for him on November 26, and the non-Indian Liberal votes in Tarneit hold for him, he can give his Labor counterpart real run for money.

That begs the question – if Preet had any plans to put his case to his own community – to unite behind him.

Also read: Council Elections 2022 – 130 plus Indian community candidates in the ring

And when asked, Preet said:

“Look up, to be honest, like I’m not focusing too much on the numbers because numbers are just numbers only… In terms of getting everyone behind, I would hope they would they would support …”

But he is honest and aware there are people in his own community who do not support him.

“Some people are working against me as well in the background, but you can’t really stop those, you know, you got to focus on what your strengths are and what you can do”.

Being LOCAL – big issue

Preet then brings in the issue of Labor party parachuting candidates from outside. His Labor party Opponent has just moved into the community from Geelong.

Preet’s heartening pitch to the Tarneit voters is:

“ I have been a local for 18 years, you know, and Labor’s will be the candidate who’s not a local he comes from Geelong. So did Sarah Connolly like she she came from New South Wales I believe. So these people, they are not locals … how much they know about Tarneit, Hoppers Crossing or this electorate.

“People need to focus on choosing someone who actually understands and feels their problem, for example, like I’ve boarded the trains at the train station, have had my shoes muddied, like, look, many times when I couldn’t find the car park, I have like walked to the Tarneit station when I couldn’t find a bus or like, I didn’t have a car, things like those, you know, like I’ve traveled or travel on the roads every single day.

Preet says he understands the pains locals suffer from and will work towards fixing those rather than someone (outsider) just coming up with a ‘mock up plan’ and saying, ‘yep, we will fix it”.

His pitch to Tarneit voters with the slogan – Preet for Tarneit

Preet says he should be given a chance because, “…We’ve had Labor for long enough, we’ve given them a fair (go), not much has changed. And unless people bring in the change, the change will never arrive. So we need a local who understands the locals, has association with this area, has worked locally and contributed locally.”

Summing up the slogan Preet for Tarneit, that person he says is Preet Singh, standing up for Tarneit.

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