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City-Country Switch For Federal MPs As Roxon And Zahra Swap Seats

Two Victorian Labor MPs are to swap electorates and houses for one week to experience the difference between representing city and country electorates.

Nicola Roxon, the member for Gellibrand, and Christian Zahra, the member for McMillan, say the swap is designed to allow them to gain a practical understanding of the issues confronting their electorates.

McMillan is in south-eastern Victoria and includes the towns of Moe, Warragul, Wonthaggi and Yallourn. Gellibrand is in western Melbourne and includes the suburbs of Footscray, Sunshine and Williamstown.

Text of a statement from Christian Zahra and Nicola Roxon.


Two Victorian Labor MPs, Federal Member for McMillan Christian Zahra and Federal Member for Gellibrand Nicola Roxon, will probably feel a bit like fish out of water this week.

In an Australian political first, the two young MPs – one representing a regional area, the other an inner city area – will ‘swap’ electorates and houses for one week, beginning today.

The swap is designed to allow the two MPs to gain a real, practical understanding of the issues confronting their very different electorates.

The MPs have organised itineraries for each other to follow, which are specifically designed to give the visiting MP an opportunity to get some first-hand experience of the most important issues and challenges facing the electorate.

So, while Mr Zahra will visit an ethnic women’s organisation, a youth access centre in Footscray and the Western Regional Economic Development Organisation, Ms Roxon will tour an abattoir in Trafalgar, a sawmill in Noojee and a power station in the Latrobe Valley.

Their programs will also include other workplace visits and meetings with service providers, economic development groups and community organisations.

Both MPs hope the exchange will give them new ideas that they can use in Canberra and on return to their own electorates.

MPs’ itineraries

Christian Zahra MP in Gellibrand.

  • VISY Youth Access Centre, Footscray – model for joint public / private investment in social development programs
  • Smorgon’s Steel Mill, Laverton.
  • Western Regional Economic Development Organisation (WREDO)
  • Maribyrnong City Council – discussion about innovative drug and gaming policies.
  • Don Smallgoods, Altona North.
  • Footscray Community Arts Centre – which run the arts in School for young people at risk.
  • Australian Dairy Ingredients Centre, Footscray. Centre for dairy industry research and development, and marketing, with a focus on the Asian market.
  • Ethnic Women’s West
  • Blackbird Cruises, history of the Maribyrnong River the living museum of the West.
  • Centrelink, Footscray.
  • ‘Jacks Magazine’, Former Defence site and new housing project.
  • Quang Minh Vietnamese Budhist Temple, Braybrook.

Nicola Roxon MP in McMillan.

  • Latrobe Valley public housing staff and ‘redevelopment’ project team, Morwell
  • Tarago River Cheese Company, Neerim South
  • L E Giles & Sons Abattoirs, Trafalgar
  • Youth Substance Abuse Service (YSAS) and the Alcohol and Drug workers from Latrobe Community Health Service, Morwell.
  • Gippsland Development Limited. (Gippsland Regional Economic Development Organisation).
  • Loy Yang Power, visit to Power Station and Open Cut Mine, Loy Yang (South of Traralgon).
  • Gippsland Regional Ecology and Environment Network Incorporated (GREEN INC). High tech, small business incubator, Churchill.
  • Monash University, Gippsland Campus, Churchill.
  • Yarragon Traders Association
  • Noojee Saw Mill
  • Koorie Unit, Central Gippsland Institute of TAFE, Morwell.
  • Gippsland Women in Business (GWIB).
  • Women’s Place / Central Gippsland Accommodation and Support Service, Morwell.
  • Cardinia Shire / Cardinia Community Health Service, Pakenham.
  • Visit to remote, home based ‘school classroom’, Aberfeldy.
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Malcolm Farnsworth
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