ACT News

Repeat Liberal candidates hoping elusive seat is delivered in 2016

Liberals leader Jeremy Hanson said his party's preselected candidates will be mainly fresh faces, but the three putting their hands up first are back for more after missing out in 2012. 

Jacob Vadakkedathu, Elizabeth Lee and James Milligan have wasted no time in declaring themselves ready for preselection as Mr Hanson announced on Friday the Liberals would choose their team in the last week of April.

James Milligan, a 2012 Liberal candidate for Molonglo, will seek preselection in Yerrabi this year.
James Milligan, a 2012 Liberal candidate for Molonglo, will seek preselection in Yerrabi this year. Photo: Jeffrey Chan

Mr Vadakkedathu, 44, was confident of a strong result this year after an impressive inaugural campaign in the knife-edge vote four years ago. 

"I was part of 2012 as a Ginninderra candidate, and with 2830 first preference votes I got almost double what Simon Corbell did and more votes than Jayson Hinder [a likely countback replacement for Mary Porter] and Meegan Fitzharris," he said. 

Jacob Vadakkedathu, who stood for the Liberals in Ginninderra in 2012, said he was confident of being preselected to ...
Jacob Vadakkedathu, who stood for the Liberals in Ginninderra in 2012, said he was confident of being preselected to stand in the new electorate of Yerrabi this year. Photo: Loui Seselja

"I'm highly confident in Yerrabi that we could win three seats. We've got one MLA most probably, I think Alistair Coe will be running in Yerrabi, and I would be running there, and I would want to be number two," he said. 

The senior policy adviser with the Department of Finance has a strong community base and established political credentials. The inaugural president of the Federation of Indian Associations of ACT until 2012, Mr Vadakkedathu was elected public officer of the Gungahlin Community Council last September after a year on a committee. 

He is vice-president of the northside Fenner branch of the Liberal Party and sits on the Gungahlin United Football Club board.

While some of his 2012 campaign posters were defaced with racist slogans, Mr Vadakkedathu said he believed his connections with the growing Indian and other multicultural communities in Gungahlin would be an asset. 

Elizabeth Lee is seeking Liberal preselection in April for the electorate of Kurrajong.
Elizabeth Lee is seeking Liberal preselection in April for the electorate of Kurrajong.  Photo: Jeffrey Chan

Law lecturer Ms Lee also had an encouraging result in 2012, missing out by just 255 votes from taking the assembly seat won by Liberal Steve Doszpot.  

She stepped up again a year later to take on Andrew Leigh in the safe Labor seat of Fraser, recording a 1.58 per cent swing to the Liberals, having defeated Mr Vadakkedathu for the federal preselection. 

The 36-year-old Australian National University academic and lawyer will be seeking preselection in the central electorate of Kurrajong and said she had two big-picture goals she would pursue if she was to make it to the assembly.   

"We are so fortunate in Canberra to really be the hub of education and innovation but it's a shame that some of the brightest minds find it too small and move on, and I want to do what I can to see how we can harness that energy, innovation and passion to make Canberra better for all of us," she said. 

The second was to continue the improvement of Canberra's reputation internationally.

The Braddon resident, elected vice-president of the ACT Law Society in September, said the Liberals' candidates would have varied life experiences which would serve them well if elected to government, and she would "without a doubt" like to play a part in cabinet if the opportunity came. 

Mr Milligan also missed out in Molonglo in 2012 and took on Mr Leigh in Fraser the election before Ms Lee (his swing to the Liberals was 0.87 per cent). 

The Gungahlin publisher and author – who prints books ranging from children's education to wartime and politics – flagged his preselection plans in 2014 and will be seeking to be on the ballot in Yerrabi.

He said jobs, health and better roads transport were his leading concerns for the region.  

"I think a new master plan needs to be done now, and we can see what land has been zoned for what purposes, to create further employment – we seem to be exporting our residents every day to other areas of Canberra," he said. 

Mr Milligan, 37, a member in recent years of the Gungahlin Community Council, said he had grown to understand the issues more since 2010 and was "raring to go".