Richmond MP Justine Elliot
Richmond MP Justine Elliot

Nationals lack a candidate

THE National Party, which not long ago considered the electorate of Richmond one of its safest seats, appears to battling to find a candidate to oppose Labor incumbent, Minister for Ageing Justine Elliot in next year's federal election.

No one has yet publicly put up their hand as a likely Nationals challenger even though nominations are due to close at the end of next week.

The situation reflects that in the neighbouring but marginal Labor seat of Page, held by Labor backbencher Janelle Saffin.

In Page, National Party senator Fiona Nash has even appealed to non-party members to step forward, saying: “We want to hear from locals even if they are not currently a member of the Nationals”.

Tweed National Party electoral council chairman Murray Lees said nominations for Richmond would close at the end of next week, and the preselection would probably be held on Sunday, December 6, possibly a week after the Page preselection.

“I can't comment on potential candidates until they nominate and decide to go public,” Mr Lees said.

“However I am very confident we will have an outstanding local champion who will do a much better job than the Labor incumbent in terms of putting the Tweed back on Canberra's radar.

“It's not the numbers that count, it's the quality of the candidate.”

Yesterday Mrs Elliot, who holds the seat by a margin of 8.87 per cent, would only respond to the difficulties of her opponents saying: “This is an internal matter for the National Party.”

In the electorate of Page the local Nationals chairman Dr Simon Kinny this week conceded party members might be thinking “the electoral tide's running the wrong way”.

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