Councillor misses out in federal politics bid

By David Schout

City of Melbourne councillor Roshena Campbell’s bid for Liberal Party preselection in the outer-eastern seat of Casey was unsuccessful in November, finishing third in a hotly contested count.

One of several candidates, Cr Campbell lost out to eventual winner Aaron Violi, a former adviser to Senator James Paterson, at the November 13 count. 

Seen as a key seat in the upcoming federal election, Casey has been held by the Liberal Party for the past 37 years, the last 20 of which have been held by outgoing speaker Tony Smith.

Cr Campbell told CBD News that while she was disappointed by the result, she was looking forward to continuing her role as chair of the council’s city activation portfolio.

“Oh yes absolutely, disappointed but you know, in circumstances where almost the entire preselection process was spent in lockdown, it made it really difficult to meet preselectors,” she said. “I’m conscious of the huge challenges we’ve got and the work that needs to be done to bring the city back. So as these things go, I’m delighted about what lies ahead and what needs to be done in the city. I’m ready to roll my sleeves up and commit to doing that.”

While the first-term councillor said she had “no plans at the moment” to nominate for further pre-selections at either state or federal level, she did not rule out the prospect. 

“A week later [after preselection] it’s not something that’s crossed my mind. There’s been a preselection since then and I didn’t nominate for that. So, at the moment I’m very focused on the work I’ve got in Melbourne.”

A former CBD local and current Fitzroy resident, Cr Campbell is a barrister with expertise in commercial law and corporate governance.

The mother of three has represented some of Australia’s largest companies as well as state and local government bodies.

She has acted in some of Victoria’s most significant litigations and a number of Royal Commissions, including for the Black Saturday bushfires.

Since being elected in November 2020, Cr Campbell has been a strong advocate for small business support during COVID-19 hardship.

She has also been an outspoken critic of plans for a medically-supervised safe-injecting room on Flinders St, describing the state government proposal as “nothing short of insanity”. 

At a May 25 council meeting she called on the City of Melbourne to reject a safe-injecting facility on the basis it would “significantly hinder” the city’s COVID-19 economic recovery.

Cr Campbell has also been critical of the council’s cycle lane rollout that was accelerated during COVID-19 lockdowns.

Preselection success in Casey would have seen her quit as councillor less than 12 months into the role. Further, it may have seen her replaced at Town Hall by the City of Melbourne’s first ever indigenous councillor, as Wiradjuri man Professor Mark McMillan would be elected via countback •

Professor McMillan was third on Lord Mayor Sally Capp’s ticket in last year’s election, behind Cr Campbell (second) and Town Hall’s current longest-serving councillor Kevin Louey (first).

And while Team Capp did not receive the required 30 per cent of votes to ensure his place on council, being next on the ticket would have seen him take the position vacated by Ms Campbell.

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