Labor challenges for Monash

Jessica O'Donnell. photograph supplied

Jessica O'Donnell. photograph supplied

Baw Baw Shire west ward councillor Jessica O'Donnell will challenge Liberal member Russell Broadbent for the federal seat of Monash as the Labor Party candidate.

The Liberal Party holds the long-held Coalition seat by a two-party preferred margin of almost 12 per cent, however, Cr O'Donnell will not be the only young newcomer to contest the seat and will run alongside an 18-year-old Greens candidate for the seat.

Gippsland born and bred, Cr O'Donnell, 30, said she was passionate about giving young people a voice and "addressing the growing inequality between people who have and people who do not have as much".

"I'm certainly going to be looking at things like penalty [rate] cuts, giving people a fair go, energy prices and what can be done about the cost of living," she said.

"I think if you are looking at the region on a broad scale, [the issues are] definitely things like education, TAFE, university, the cost of living ... the things that are really hitting the everyday Australian in the hip pocket."

A student herself, completing a double degree in law and arts, Cr O'Donnell said she was intimately aware of the hardships facing young people.

"Talking to some of my university colleagues who work in a café or the service industry on the weekend and trying to get through their degree and trying to support themselves, having penalty rates cut is the difference between what they eat for a week," she said.

"Also when it comes to penalty cuts, another thing I am passionate about is equality for women. A lot of industries impacted by penalty rate cuts have a high casual workforce and a there is a high level of women in the casual workforce, so that is something that needs to be addressed."

Cr O'Donnell said the government should be "looking out for" those who "might be having a bit of a hard go of it" and described the Coalition's tax cuts as "not great".

"I think that if the people of Monash are looking for a change, I will be out finding out what their needs really are and I what I need to do to help," she said.

"If they are looking for someone who is excited to be there and who will work very, very hard ... it is up to them if they want the change.

"One of the reasons I ran for council was because I was passionate about giving young people a voice. Baw Baw has gone from not really providing anything in the youth space, to having a youth charter and ... Baw Baw getting a youth officer."