Seven party supporters including Tenterfield mayor Peter Petty have put up their hands as contenders for National Party pre-selection for the Lismore electorate in the next state election, slated for March 2019.
While always indicating this would be his final term before retiring, MP Thomas George’s official announcement in early July of his intention paved the way for the pre-selection process to get underway.
“It (state parliament representation) is something I’ve always thought about,” Mr Petty said.
He said if he didn’t put himself up for pre-selection now he’d always be thinking about what could have been. Mr George will have served the electorate for 20 years on his retirement in 2019, so other party members keen to fly their flag have had little opportunity over the past two decades and are jumping at the chance now.
Along with Mr Petty, others in the running for pre-selection are Austin Curtin, Rod Bruem, Andrew Gordon, Gianpiero Battista, Ray Karam and Tim Roberts. After the redrawing of electoral boundaries the Lismore electorate now takes in the Tenterfield Local Government Area along with that of Kyogle, Tweed and Lismore City.
Mr Petty said he was born and bred on the north coast, and is passionate about the area.
“It will take a good, strong candidate to replace Thomas George, and I look forward to the challenge,” he said.
The four branches of the National Party in the electorate have each endorsed its own candidate. The Tenterfield branch will back Mr Petty, the Lismore branch is backing Mr Curtain, the Murwillumbah branch is backing Mr Bruem and the Bonalbo branch is backing Mr Gordon. The seven men still have to present themselves to a meeting of the party executive in Lismore on September 16 where the three official candidates for pre-selection will be announced.
The process to then determine who will represent the Nationals in the Lismore electorate at the next state election will follow the ‘community’ pre-selection method first used to select a candidate for the Tamworth electorate in the 2011 state election.
Everyone on the Lismore electoral role – not just National Party members – will have the opportunity to vote for their preferred candidate on November 18. Non-members are required to show ID and complete a Nationals’ ‘registered supporter’ form.
The party hopes that this arrangement gives even non-party members are sense of ownership of the candidate and establishes ties with the party and its eventual runner in the election.
Voting will resemble that of the state election itself – complete with polling booths and scrutineers – and candidates are encouraged to campaign for their pre-selection.