Provest to take up fight for Nationals

PROMINENT Tweed businessman and charity worker Geoff Provest will contest the state elections for the National Party at next year's poll.

When nominations closed for pre-selection on Saturday Mr Provest was the only name put forward, making his nomination as the National Party candidate little more than a formality when the Richmond branch holds its pre-selection meeting on March 24.

Mr Provest's uncontested nomination came as a surprise after two other candidates, former mayor Warren Polglase and Ian de Mol, pulled out at the last minute.

National Party spokesman Murray Lees said Mr Polglase withdrew, citing business commitments and recognising that Mr Provest was a particularly strong candidate.

Mr de Mol, who regularly tilts at nomination, conceded he had little realistic chance against Mr Provest.

The Nationals hope to unseat long-term incumbent, Labor's Neville Newell.

Mr Lees said the Nationals hoped to unite the conservative force in the Tweed under one banner with Mr Provest at the helm.

Mr Provest runs a consultancy with his wife at Banora Point and was until recently general manager of the Tweed Heads Bowls Club.

He is also regional director of the Salvation Army's Red Shield Appeal and has been a leading light in the Clean Up Australia Campaign.

Mr Lees said the fact there was only one name at the close of nominations did not indicate the Nationals were a spent force.

"On the contrary, we felt we had such a strong candidate in Geoff we all had to get behind him," Mr Lees said.

Labor's Neville Newell said it went without saying in today's climate any campaign was going to be tough.

"They had a 20 per cent swing in Pittwater for no apparent reason. So there's no such thing as a safe seat these days," Mr Newell said.

"And the members of the Tweed Heads Bowls club decided Mr Provest was not the person to be running their club."

Mr Provest said yesterday he was surprised Mr Newell should hark back to his departure from the bowls club which, he said, he left to pursue his own business interests.

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