A former paramedics union boss has answered Labor’s emergency call after the party dropped its candidate for the safe seat of Melton.

Steve McGhie, retired state secretary of the Ambulance Employees Union, will contest the seat of Melton after Justin Mammarella abandoned the race with four weeks to go.

Labor state secretary Samuel Rae confirmed last Thursday that Mr Mammarella had withdrawn for “family reasons”.

The shock exit comes days after a Labor election pledge of $2.3 million towards a case study for a public hospital in Melton.

“The Labor Party will quickly pre-select another candidate,” Mr Rae said at the time.

“We are confident that Labor will provide the electorate of Melton with a strong and committed candidate who, if given the honour, will continue Labor’s strong track record of investment in schools, hospitals, roads and public transport.”

Mr McGhie, who lives 75 kilometres away from Melton in Buninyong, confirmed last week he would be contesting the seat for Labor.

“They obviously needed someone to stand up after the other candidate decided to withdraw so I put my hand up for it,” he said.

In September last year, Mr Mammarella’s father Robert, a former office manager for embattled Western Metro MP Khalil Eideh, was embroiled in a Labor printing scandal.

Labor whistleblowers alleged Parliament was excessively billed for printing and the money was instead used to pay for ALP branch stacking. Melbourne printer F&M Printing was raided by Victorian police over the scandal at that time.

Justin Mammarella could not be contacted for comment last week.

Opposition MP Michael O’Brien called for a full explanation of why Mr Mammarella was no longer a candidate.

“I don’t think the few line statement put out by the Labor Party today cuts it,” Mr O’Brien said.

“I think Daniel Andrews needs to explain the real reasons why his candidate for Melton has stepped down just 30 days from the election.”

Melton is held by Don Nardella, who has sat on the cross benches in State Parliament since he resigned from the ALP in 2017 after being caught rorting his parliamentary second home allowance.

Mr Nardella will not be contesting Melton next month but the seat is expected to remain safe Labor territory in November’s poll.

 

– with The Age