REGION - Voters in the electorate of Mallee are spoilt for choice this election with a record number of candidates vying for your vote at the September 7 poll.
The Nationals' Andrew Broad is looking to retain the safe seat retiring member John Forrest held for 20 years.
Unlike 2010 or any election before The Nationals face challenges from across the political spectrum with 11 alternatives putting forward their cases for election.
The Liberal, Labor, Greens, Citizens Electoral Council, Palmer United Australia, Katters' Australian, Australian Sex, Rise Up Australia, Family First and Country Alliance parties are all in the race along with an independent.
Andrew Broad said he wasn't standing to make promises that will only end up being broken, but to be the representative the electorate needs.
"I'm not here to make promises, this is about how we represent regional Australia," he said.
"I feel as a National I am in a position to be parochial to ensure we get the strong representation we need."
Mr Broad said living within our means and fiscal discipline would be very important in the next term of government.
"We need to be working on things that drive our economy and in Mallee a large part of that is small business," he said.
Mr Broad said he hopes to emulate the attitude of the retiring Mr Forrest.
"This isn't about the politicians, it is about the people you represent. Taking what you are hearing on the ground back to Canberra."
Mr Broad said cynicism about democracy at the moment was justified.
But after travelling the world and seeing the result of when people 'turn off' he doesn't want to see that happen in Australia.
"People need to consider that we are all very fortunate to have a say in who governs us," Mr Broad said.
For the first time since Mr Forrest took the seat in 1993 a Liberal party candidate is running against its coalition partner.
Chris Crewther who will top the ballot paper said he was contesting the seat because he is passionate about many things including better infrastructure.
"Improving telecommunications is key, we need to ensure a better broadband roll out in rural and regional Australia," he said.
"We also need to bring industry and services to the Mallee and provide opportunities for young people to study and work."
Mr Crewther said he was fully supportive of improvements to mental health.
"We will have a dedicated minister for mental health and will set up programs like a mental health workforce training program," he said.
Mr Crewther cited cutting tax compliance and occupational health and safety requirements as a way of keeping and building business.
He said locally the restoration of Lake Lonsdale would be a first priority if elected.
"I've had several people contact me about that and I wrote a letter to the Shadow Minister for the Environment Greg Hunt about establishing a green army program," he said.
"This would be able to remove the build up of trees in the lake as a result of the drought and restore what is an important tourist attraction to its former glory."
Mr Crewther said achieving funding and commitments to complete the Western Highway duplication to the border would also be a priority.
Labor candidate Lydia Senior said she believes the Mallee has become one of the most disadvantaged communities in Victoria.
Ms Senior acknowledged that farmers are doing it tough and pledged to support them in every way possible.
"The carbon tax is on its way out and an Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) is coming in so power bills should start to reduce in the near future," she said.
"My commitment, not only to farmers but to all businesses, is to cut down on the unnecessary red tape which is driving us all absolutely nuts."
Ms Senior the Labor version of the NBN is vital for economic development across all sectors.
"This is the number one issue people are talking about, no-one wants copper wires and sand batteries, the last century's solution," she said.
Ms Senior said the ALP's Better Schools initiative and investment in a before and after school and school holiday childcare program will be of great benefit to the electorate.
She said addressing the mental health of young people by providing services including headspace facilities and counselling and establishing trade training centre opportunities, were vital for rural communities.
AustralianSex Party candidate Amy Mulcahy said when considering to vote for her, people should look beyond the name of the party.
"If people are afraid they need to look at the policy rather than the name," she said.
Ms Mulcahy said it was important voters had another choice and the smaller party was giving voters that.
"People need to know that they don't always have to look to the bigger parties, there are smaller parties out there that provide an alternative," she said.
Ms Mulcahy said it was time for change.
"We believe in civil liberties and freedom of choice, we have become too much of a nanny state, adults should have more choice," she said.
Ms Mulcahy said requiring churches to pay their fair share of tax by businesses owned by the church, excluding charities, was one policy.
She said she believes in a more secular education system and more equality for people in general with the legislating of same-sex marriage a way of providing that.
Citizens Electoral Council candidate Chris Lahy said the reintroduction of the glass steagall legislation and a credit bank were his main goals.
"We want to see the separation of commercial banking and speculative and derivative banking," he said.
"This would enable businesses, small businesses and mortgage holders to obtain low interest loans."
He said with the introduction of a sovereign credit bank the interest gained from repayments would go in to the federal budget.
"This would create the cash flow to make sure important infrastructure projects, road and rail and hospital upgrades are undertaken," he said.
Rise Up Australia's Tim Middleton has three main principles he would act on if elected.
The first is widely translated from the party's slogan 'Keep Australia Australian'.
"We are against division and believe that the request for Australia to adopt Sharia law is concerning," he said.
"We need to put in place a system that stops the adoption of a second legal system being introduced."
Mr Middleton said the second is the ownership of Australian land and that any sales should be divided up so that they remain the majority owners with at least a 51% share.
"We realise along with many other countries that the supply and demand for food is only going to grow in the future," he said.
"That's why we need to get more government support for farmers who have no other option but to sell."
Mr Middleton said there are parts of Northern Australia where land isn't allowed to be acquired because of its indigenous ownership.
"If it is good enough for aboriginal land, why not for the rest of Australia?" he said.
Mr Middleton said supporting farmers first is the third objective.
"We know you need an open commercial playing field, but we need to be assisting our local farmers to sell produce and one of the ways could be the reintroduction of tariffs on imports."
Katters Australian party candidate Vince Cirillo said eliminating black spots for mobile phone coverage would be among his first priorities along with addressing water distribution.
He said ensuring funding for the Western Highway duplication would be crucial and the elimination of the carbon tax would reduce the rising cost of living.
"I think the maintenance of our roads is shocking, our leaders have ignored the obvious signs and signals for years and years and our roads have been left in a poor condition.
"We need a body to be monitoring them to make sure they are at least at a drivable standard."
Mr Cirillo said providing financial support for business and industry was paramount.
"We have the highest rate of closure of business in the Mallee electorate in the state," he said.
"I would continue to lobby for funding to retain business and industry including the motor vehicle industry."
Palmer United Australia party candidate Mark Cory said the country needed to 'stop haemorrhaging money'.
He said reducing government interference in peoples lives was a major part of his party's platform.
Mr Cory said returning a portion of the wealth created by resource extraction including mining to infrastructure projects and scrapping the carbon tax would make a big difference to people's lives.
"I will be releasing firm policies and programs that will help create investment in business and industry closer to the election date," he said.
He said no other candidate had been on the ground as heavily researching as he had been in the lead up to polling day.
The Greens Jan MacAllister said she believed the major parties had blended in to one and that voters need an alternative.
"As a safe national party seat we've been missing out on a lot of attention that we should be getting," she said.
"People should take the time to think about the issues and ask themselves what has my politician done for me?"
Ms MacAllister said the people of Mallee need a representative that has long term vision, will look after resources and maintain infrastructure including roads.
She said the Greens refugee policy was an example of how the greens are standing for a more caring society.
Ms MacAllister said she also has great concern for people on the Newstart allowance.
"People who are on Newstart fall to an income level almost 40 per cent below the poverty line," she said.
"This is especially hard on single parents who once their eldest child turns eight, no matter how many children they have are forced on to newstart and in to poverty."
Ms MacAllister said she believed the last three years of minority government had been a success.
"We've had a lot of wins through minority government," she said.
Country Alliance candidate Michael Coldham said he believed supporting rural and regional manufacturing and farming was most important.
"I would be lobbying to get the financial support from the government for the development of technology and investment in sustainable business practices," he said.
Mr Coldham said he also wanted to see the reinstatement of funding for TAFE colleges and measures to enhance the ecnomic development of rural communities.
Family First representative Neil Buller said addressing the rising cost of living would be top of his agenda if elected.
The taxi driver said tax decreases including the abolition of the carbon tax would ease cost of living pressures that were breaking up families.
"The rises are sending people to the wall and breaking up families," he said.
"Working from 5pm to 5am as I do I see a lot of drunks, a lot of people doing it really hard.
"We need some kind of education program or guidelines for people on welfare benefits so they are shown how to budget."
Mr Buller said improved telecommunications and funding for the Western Highway would also be very important.
Independent Allen Ridgeway wants a gas pipeline network for the whole of Mallee, to be paid for by a superannuation fund.
"Gas is jobs. I don't care if it costs a billion dollars it will make us a more prosperous place and add value to our primary products," he said.
"If we had this investment Mum and Dad wouldn't be waving goodbye to their kids at the end of every year who are leaving for the city for their education and jobs."
Mr Ridgeway said growing the number of gas users over time would help pay for the pipeline and would make the cost per unit of gas fall.
Mr Ridgeway said he also wanted to see the adoption of the Swiss voting system where decision making is shared between politicians and the people.