ACTU president Ged Kearney is making a tilt for the tight Melbourne seat of Brunswick after former Victorian minister Jane Garrett’s bombshell announcement she’ll move to the upper house.
Ms Kearney told AAP she was approached to nominate for preselection on Tuesday and has Ms Garrett’s backing.
Despite having a national profile through her role with the ACTU, Ms Kearney said she could not pass up the opportunity to run for the state seat once it was offered.
“To be asked to run for Brunswick, a suburb I know and love – I call it the People’s Republic – I just think ‘what an honour’,” she told AAP on Wednesday.
“All the issues I fight for federally (through the ACTU) are pertinent issues on a state level.”
Labor’s hold on Brunswick is under threat from the Greens, who believe they have a chance of winning and have already started accusing Labor of “abandoning” the lower house electorate.
“They think by approaching me we’re giving up? That’s interesting,” Ms Kearney said.
Tim Read and Adam Pulford have nominated for Greens preselection.
“Labor might be abandoning Brunswick, but the Greens will work hard to deliver a local MP who stands up for their values,” state Greens MP Sam Hibbins said.
Ms Garrett, a former emergency services minister, is leaving Brunswick to chase the Western Metropolitan Region seat set to be vacated by the beleaguered Khalil Eideh.
Ms Garrett said she believed it was in the best interests of Brunswick voters to have a fresh voice and will pursue the upper house after colleagues and others recommended it.
“It is well known I have faced some significant challenges in recent times, including health issues,” Ms Garrett said.
“After very careful consideration and discussion with my friends, family and colleagues I have decided to take up this request.”
The former emergency services minister, who quit cabinet rather than sign a controversial firefighters’ union pay deal, also fought breast cancer in 2016.
Mr Eideh, who announced he is quitting at the 2018 election, is under investigation over allegations Labor MPs used printing entitlements to pay for branch stacking.
Ms Garrett is a member of the left faction but would likely need the support of the right to win a seat in Melbourne’s west.