By PETER CATON
STATE Labor MP for Tweed Neville Newell could face a challenge from within his own ranks for the formerlysafe National Party seat he has held since 1999.
Right-wingers within the Labor Party have moved into vital Tweed branches and have discussed a preselection challenge against Mr Newell ? a member of the party's left wing.
The push coincides with ongoing division on the conservative side of politics over whether the Liberals should stand a candidate as well as the Nationals.
Labor Party nominations for the preselection of candidates for the seat, which will be centred on the urban areas of Tweed Heads, Banora Point and Kingscliff following a statewide electoral redistribution, close on Tuesday.
Yesterday Mr Newell would only say: "In the great tradition of democracy in the Australian Labor Party nomination is available to every member".
Another great tradition of the party however is factional backstabbing.
None of the new right-wing members could be contacted yesterday.
Under party rules nominations are sent to head office in Sydney.
Members said any nomination challenging Mr Newell would probably be lodged "at the last minute".
Mr Newell has in the past relied heavily on the pro-environment vote along the Tweed Coast.
But he was also strongly supported by the party's branch at Murwillumbah which, following the redistribution, is part of the safe National Party seat of Lismore.
Labor sources said a number of right-wing members had recently joined the party's Tweed Coast branch which covers the Kingscliff and Fingal areas.
While initially the members had moved to provide support for Federal MP for Richmond, Justine Elliot, a member of the party's right, their focus had shifted to the state election due in March next year.