Nats get set for coming election

THE National Party expects to have a decent field of potential candidates for next year’s federal election in Richmond by the time preselection nominations close some time next week.

However, the Liberal Party is still looking for candidates in both Page and Richmond as it prepares for its first go at the former Nationals stronghold seats.

Tweed Nationals electoral council chairman Murray Lees yesterday declined to give the names of people who had stepped forward for the Richmond preselection or to say how many had so far nominated.

However, he said a strong field was shaping up for the poll.

Mr Lees conceded winning Richmond from Labor frontbencher Justine Elliot, who holds the seat by a near nine per cent margin, would be a “big ask”, but he said that it was achievable.

“We were blown out last time by the anti-Howard vote,” Mr Lees said.

“There’s votes to be won across the electorate. For a ‘safe seat’, it’s nowhere near as safe as Labor thinks it is.”

Mr Lees said the successful candidate would need to spread his or her efforts to campaign across the electorate – not just in Tweed Heads, which is the seat’s biggest population centre.

A preselection vote was expected on December 6, probably at Murwillumbah, although the party’s Mullumbimby and Tweed Heads branches were also keen to host the vote.

A spokeswoman for the Liberal Party’s head office yesterday said she was not able, under party rules, to say whether anyone had nominated for preselection in Page or to confirm Tweed councillor Joan van Lieshout’s preselection nomination in Richmond.

The spokeswoman said the party was still accepting preselection nominations and no date had been set for the close of preselections in Page or Richmond.

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