The federal seat of Eden-Monaro has traditionally swung between the two major parties. Now it may have a third strong option.
The National Party is calling for nominations for potential pre-selection in the electorate ahead of a federal election, expected some time in the next nine months.
The Nationals’ patron senator for Eden-Monaro, John Williams, said he was keen to see several people nominate so the branch would have a quality choice to make on who the candidate would be.
He played down the issue of running a National Party candidate up against a Liberal Coalition colleague, saying it wouldn’t be the first time and that it could even be beneficial.
“Eden-Monaro is a big regional area now and we stick up for the regions,” Senator Williams told Fairfax Media on Tuesday.
“You only have to look at the state seat of Monaro and see the NSW Nationals leader John Barilaro in charge – there are a lot of National votes there.
“I don’t particularly like a three-cornered contest at the state level as there is no compulsory preferencing and the National vote can get exhausted early – we’ve seen that happen before.
“But for the federal election we’re happy to stand against the Liberal and Labor parties – in fact it can even be beneficial and gives the people more options to vote for come election day.”
The electorate of Eden-Monaro stretches right across the state’s south-east, from the Victorian border to Tuross along the coast, north to the Palerang Shire and Yass Valley, west across the Snowy Mountains to Tumut, Batlow and Tumbarumba, and the city of Queanbeyan.
It’s currently held by Labor’s Mike Kelly.
While the relatively dense population centre of Queanbeyan has been a focus for many an Eden-Monaro candidate, this new expanded boundary incorporates plenty of regional towns – and their respective issues.
“Hence our interest in running someone,” Senator Williams said.
The Nationals are currently calling for nominations and hope to have a pre-selection ballot among members by the end of the year.