Poll fight goes Italian

JUST four months after being elected a Knox councillor, Joe Cossari could soon be balancing the role with a position in the Italian Parliament.

Cr Cossari is one of 16 candidates vying to represent Australia, Africa, Asia, Antarctica and Oceania in the two houses of the Italian Parliament at this week's elections.

If he is successful in winning one of the two seats available, he will vote on all pieces of legislation put to the Italian government and represent the views of Italians living abroad.

While Cr Cossari insisted he would be able to continue to serve as the Collier Ward councillor, Marco Fedi — who holds the Italian position Cr Cossari is compaigning for — disagreed.

"You have to be fully committed to the job to do it properly, you can do nothing else," he said, adding that the representative must live in Rome so they could vote on legislation.

Mr Fedi was elected to represent the electorate's 200,000 Italian citizens — 110,000 of whom are in Australia — in the 2006 elections. He travelled back to Australia several times during his term, but said he spent the majority of time living in Rome.

But Cr Cossari — who has also served on Maroondah Council and as mayor of Knox and Maroondah councils — said he could continue to serve both groups of constituents.

"If elected to the Italian Parliament, the majority of my role can be achieved through electronic communication and media, thus leaving me with plenty of time to represent Knox in my councillor duties," Cr Cossari said.

He would also be able to continue his day-to-day job — working with the INPS system which is the Italian equivalent of Centrelink — while his wife would take on more day-to-day duties. "Further, the criteria for running for the Italian Parliament is that you reside within the electorate. This is my home, I am not going anywhere," he said.

Cr Cossari also ran for the Italian Parliament in 2008.

Italian citizens will receive their ballot papers in the mail today and the election result is expected late this month.

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