Leader of the NSW Nationals John Barilaro and deputy leader Niall Blair have welcomed the pre-selection of Austin Curtin as the Nationals candidate for the seat of Lismore.
Mr Barilaro said Mr Curtin is an exceptional candidate with a strong history of living in, and serving the communities of Lismore and Tregeagle.
“Austin has proved himself to the communities of the Lismore electorate that he is the right person to represent them,” Mr Barilaro said.
“Austin grew up in Lismore, before studying degrees in economics and communications which led to marketing and sales roles in agriculture, education and human resources. He then re-trained as a carpenter while living in Perth, but after meeting his wife, decided he wanted to raise his family in the same community he enjoyed as a young boy,” he said.
Mr Curtin and his wife Bronwyn now have two young children in Claudia (4) and George (2), with a third on the way. Together, they run a macadamia farm in Tregeagle, south of Lismore.
The non-compulsory poll on Saturday, November 18 was the NSW Nationals’ second community preselection process, after Tamworth's in 2010. The model allows any voter on the electoral roll to have their say.
“Every resident of the Lismore electorate had the opportunity to participate in the selection process of their Nationals candidate by voting in one of six booths across the electorate,” Mr Barilaro said.
“The turnout was nothing short of incredible, with 3657 votes cast across the day, which shows just how keen the community was to participate in the democratic process and have their say.
“In regional and rural NSW, more than anywhere else, people need to feel that their local member will represent them with a steely determination, and this preselection process gives local people the chance to select who they think will best do that.”
Mr Blair said Mr Curtin proved to the local community that he has what it takes to fight for the people of Lismore.
“We know the community has had a challenging year and is still recovering from the impacts of flooding which devastated parts of the region. The NSW Nationals are committed to making sure the people of Lismore have all the support they needs as they continue to rebuild,” Mr Blair said.
“I look forward to working with Austin and I am confident he will be a strong advocate and voice for the community,” he said.
Mr Barilaro paid tribute to Thomas George for his years of service to the people of the Northern Rivers.
“Thomas has worked tirelessly for 18 years for the people of Lismore,” Mr Barilaro said.
“I’m so pleased Thomas’s leadership inspired such a remarkable candidate in Austin to enter politics and strive to be the voice of the people of Lismore in State Parliament.”