Councillor’s Corangamite tilt

Paul Barker. (Ivan Kemp) 248886_10

By Luke Voogt

Another local councillor has declared for Corangamite after Geelong mayor Stephanie Asher in July made a long-anticipated announcement that she would contest the federal seat.

Surf Coast Shire councillor Paul Barker this week revealed he would stand for the Liberal Democrats in Corangamite at the next federal election.

“I have been motivated to take this stand based on support and encouragement from many in our community,” he told the Independent.

“People are tired of harsh authoritarian measures that achieve nothing. We used to be a nation that was one and free, now we’re segregated and imprisoned with no end in sight.”

The Torquay ward councillor will run on his party’s policy of ending all COVID-19 restrictions on December 4 or ‘freedom day’.

“That allows those who want to get a vaccine to get one so we can protect the vulnerable and return to the old normal,” he said.

Victoria is on track to reach 70 per cent of people fully vaccinated by November 1 and 80 per cent by November 19, according to federal data.

The first threshold would mean lockdowns are less likely, with lockdowns almost completely eliminated at 80 per cent.

Mr Barker’s vote preferences could be vital in the ultra-marginal electorate, which Labor’s Libby Coker took from previous MP Sarah Henderson by a 1.04 per cent margin after preferences.

But Mr Barker believed he could challenge Ms Coker and Liberal candidate Ms Asher.

“We live in some seriously restricted times,” he said.

“If people want that, they can keep voting for Labor or Liberal. Now is the time to vote for freedom.”

Mr Barker strongly opposed vaccine passports, saying vaccination should not be part of public policy on restrictions.

But he defended the right of private venue owners and event-holders to refuse entry to unvaccinated patrons.

He declined to say if he had been vaccinated.

“That’s a private medical issue that’s a topic for myself and my doctor,” he said.