By Mikayla van Loon
Aaron Violi was officially declared as the Federal member for the Casey electorate last week, with a ceremony held at the Australian Electoral Commission’s facility in Ferntree Gully.
The declaration of the poll ascertains that a candidate received the majority of the vote during the election.
Due to the closeness of this year’s election process, with Mr Violi falling briefly to Labor candidate Bill Brindle in the early stages of the count, AEC Divisional Returning Officer for Casey, Kessy Zhang could only declare the election result on Friday 17 June.
While all candidates were invited to attend the event, independent candidate Claire Ferres Miles was the only one to make an appearance.
Mr Violi said it was very humbling to officially be declared as the Member for Casey, surrounded by supporters and his family.
“It’s just an amazing honour and privilege to be able to represent my home but it also comes with a deep sense of understanding and responsibility for what being a Member of Casey means. I’m representing our communities and that involves fighting for them,” he said.
Ms Ferres Miles said she decided to attend the declaration because she felt if “you choose to participate in the electoral process, you should participate in the whole thing.”
“This is the final step in the declaration and I think it’s also a great opportunity to thank the Electoral Commission staff. They’ve done an extraordinary job,” she said.
Now the election is over, Ms Ferres Miles said the Voices of Casey movement would reignite to engage regularly with Mr Violi on what the community would like to see.
“The important part of the independent movement and Voices of Casey is constantly checking in with the community about what’s important to them and then feeding that information to the elected representatives.
“Representation is not just an election it continues.”
Although he hadn’t yet been declared as the MP, Mr Violi said since the election he has been making an effort to visit groups and organisations in the division to understand the broad array of challenges facing the uniquely different areas.
“We’ve got a lot of challenges locally and nationally, and I’ll be working really hard to make sure our voice here in Casey is heard in Canberra with the new government,” he said.
Some of Mr Violi’s key areas of focus will be on supporting small business, community groups and the tourism sector in parliament.
His first priority, however, will be securing funds for the Lilydale Youth Hub, a pledge Mr Violi made during his campaign if he and the Liberal government were elected.
“My first priority is to really fight for the commitments I made in the campaign.
“I made those commitments because the communities in Casey were telling me that’s what they wanted and they’re all going to be key priorities but the Lilydale Youth Hub commitment of $3.5 million is urgent.
“[That] extends the program for another three years and that the funding runs out in December this year. It’s a vital service for Casey, particularly after the pandemic.”
Mr Violi said he would be lobbying and advocating for this funding to be a priority of the Labor government and the federal ministers that hold those portfolios.
Having had almost four weeks to come to terms with the result of the election, Mr Violi said he is still trying to live in the moment and soak in what has happened.
“I think sometimes in life, we can keep moving forward on to the next goal without taking a moment to really soak in what’s happened and for me, it’s important to take a moment and understand this is a huge honour.”
Working towards this for quite some time, Mr Violi said he has been reflecting on the last six months throughout his campaign and has been preparing for his Federal parliament debut.
“I can’t put it into words…is probably the summary because it’s part of what I have worked for but I haven’t worked towards this goal for myself.
“It’s for what I believe passionately that I can bring to the parliament on behalf of the residents of Casey and that’s what I’m really excited about, bringing that local connection, that business experience to Canberra.”