Burgess stands as independent

Morwell businessman Ray Burgess has announced he will contest the seat of Morwell in November's state election as an independent. photograph hayley mills

Morwell businessman Ray Burgess has announced he will contest the seat of Morwell in November's state election as an independent. photograph hayley mills

Morwell newsagent Ray Burgess is the latest person to declare he will contest the seat of Morwell in November's state election, setting his sights on a new brown coal-fired power station which he claims a majority of the community want built.

Mr Burgess, 63, will stand as an independent and said a new power station would utilise the region's "traditional strengths" and address unemployment across the Latrobe Valley.

Speaking to The Express, Mr Burgess described himself as a conservative and said a new power station would be achievable if it had support from the federal government and funding which he said could come from the banks.

"What a new coal-fired power station would do is realign where we've come from, I'm not saying we visit where we've been ... but value our national asset and create jobs," Mr Burgess said.

"You really need bipartisan support from the government – that's going to be hard to get – but if say for instance a carbon tax came in, that would smash your profitability so anything that punishes the carbon dioxide from that plant should not exist."

Mr Burgess, who worked for the State Electricity Commission at Yallourn and Morwell for 15 years, said his motive to run for the seat emanated from the closure of Hazelwood Power Station.

"I didn't have a burning ambition to go into politics," he said.

"People started coming to me mainly around the announcement of the Hazelwood closure and were saying 'no one is talking for us' and I've formed the opinion that the people who are arguing for us aren't arguing on our traditional strengths."

He said a high efficiency low emissions power station would create new jobs for the region's skilled workforce who have been displaced since the closure of Hazelwood.

"I believe that the climate is changing. I think we'd be stupid to not think that and I think it's probably warming," Mr Burgess said.

"Do I believe CO2 is the driver of that, well, I'm not convinced of that and it would be stupid of us to smash our industry and our economy for something that's not necessarily proven."

Mr Burgess has owned and operated Morwell Newsagency for the past 25 years but said he was "Valley-focused". file photograph

Mr Burgess has owned and operated Morwell Newsagency for the past 25 years but said he was "Valley-focused". file photograph

Despite the fact the father-of-three has run the Morwell Newsagency for the past 25 years, he said he was focused on the prosperity of the Latrobe Valley and denied he would be too Morwell-centric if elected.

"I'm Valley-focused. The power scenario is Valley-focused because the people live and work across the Valley and even on the fringes and outside the Valley," Mr Burgess said.

"I believe I'm the best candidate to articulate what we need and I think it would be disastrous if ... our coal asset was under-utilised.”

Mr Burgess has a degree in chemistry and spent 15 years in the power industry includng time as a union representative.

"I'm just a normal bloke in many respects. I've played footy and cricket and [am] a life member of a cricket club so I've got the profile that most people can identify with."

Sitting member Russell Northe holds Morwell on a two-party preferred margin of 1.8 per cent and is yet to declare whether he will contest the seat.

Latrobe City councillor Dale Harriman is the Liberals candidate while former Hazelwood worker Mark Richards will represent Labor.

Former Latrobe City councillor Dr Christine Sindt will run as an independent and former Senator Ricky Muir will stand for the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party.

In March, The Nationals selected former Latrobe City councillor and Victorian National Party senior vice president Sheridan Bond as its candidate.

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