Dr Michael Holland has been announced as the Labor candidate who will take on Liberal candidate Fiona Kotvojs in the by-election for the state seat of Bega later this year.
Dr Holland, who has lived and worked as an obstetrician on the Far South Coast for almost 19 years, was announced as the candidate just before Christmas by NSW Labor leader Chris Minns.
"I'd met with Chris Minns, and he invited me to consider being the candidate in the forthcoming election, and I accepted that invitation," Dr Holland said.
"Being a recent member of the ALP, there are processes within the party rules that allow for selection of a candidate on the basis they would be of significant benefit to the party, and I believe that's the decision NSW Labor has come to."
Dr Holland move to the Eurobodalla Shire in 2003 after working in Newcastle, and said it would be a "privilege" to represent a "great area".
"We moved here in 2003, and within a year there was a crisis of maternity services down here," he said.
"Batemans Bay had to close, and we had to amalgamate the two services based at Moruya.
"That was a difficult time for us, but out of that we've developed a very functional and sustainable service that women and their families trust, and we now have people coming from Milton-Ulladulla and the Bega Valley.
"I came to town with five children, four of whom were educated locally. They've all gone off to work in Canberra now, but I still feel very much embedded in the community here.
"You obviously can't live in two communities, but my professional services have me known in the Bega region, and about 20 per cent of my patients come from there.
"There's still a lot of work to be done (in the health sphere), and it needs political support to do that.
"It would be a great privilege to represent the Bega electorate if I'm elected. I'm committing to it, and I think my breadth of experience translates to the needs in this community."
Dr Holland has been heavily involved for the push for a Level 4 hospital in the Eurobodalla Shire, and said it was an issue he would continue campaigning for as a political candidate.
"This is something I've been campaigning for for 19 years, but it's not just a Eurobodalla issue," he said.
"This is a whole South Coast issue - the catalyst that started my consideration for a political role was when I presented to the state parliamentary inquiry into health access in regional areas.
"Primarily I'm known as one of the co-founders of the One New Eurobodalla Hospital Advocacy Group, but despite thousands of signatures on two petitions, NSW Health has refused to commit to opening a new Eurobodalla Hospital with Level 4 services.
"They're still struggling to provide those services in the Bega Valley, and my platform will be one of equity between the two hospitals.
"Both Bega and Moruya should have equal services, because we don't want people to be in a situation where they have to drive for two hours for health services."
Dr Holland said it was tough to think about campaigning as the by-election date still hadn't been determined as of Monday, January 3, but he predicted it would be similar to every other facet of life during COVID-19.
"I think there will be a big role for virtual presentations and electronic media," he said.
"It'll be difficult to do your normal door knocking and meet and greets in the current environment - it'll be an awkward time for campaigning with the pandemic."
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