THE fight for the seat of Lyne is gearing up.
Nominations have opened for candidates seeking preselection to stand for The Nationals to contest the seat of Lyne.
Nominations close next Friday. Rank-and-file party members will vote in the July 1 preselection.
NSW Nationals’ chairman Christine Ferguson said the party was keen to select a strong local candidate to represent Lyne.
“The so-called ‘new paradigm’ has failed, and voters across Australia are eager to put an end to this pathetic government,” Mrs Ferguson said. “The people of Lyne know that their local MP has been one of the staunchest defenders of the Gillard government, and a great number of them are looking to The Nationals to defeat Rob Oakeshott and give Lyne a voice in a stable and responsible coalition government”.
Lyne Electorate Council chairman Theo Hazelgrove expects very strong interest to be shown in the preselection.
“We have some very interested people wanting to, if you like, claim Australia back,” he said.
Preselection candidates must have been party members for 12 months or longer, although this requirement may be waived in extraordinary circumstances.
All party members of six months’ standing are eligible to vote at the preselection.
Mr Oakeshott made history in 2008 with a landslide victory, whichemphatically broke The Nationals’ stronghold on the federal seat.
Lyne had been held by the Country/Nationals for almost half a century since its inception in 1949, and was vacated by the resignation of former deputy prime minister Mark Vaile.
Mr Oakeshott sided with Labor to help form a minority government in 2010.
The federal election must be held by November 30 next year.
Mr Oakeshott responded to his National Party critics yesterday by saying: “The Nationals had 60 years to address the social and economic disadvantage facing our community and didn’t.
“The decision I made in 2010 had nothing to do with party politics and everything to do with my community ...
“So far it has delivered more than $30 million in local university funding, $100 million for Port Macquarie Base Hospital, $40 million for Kempsey Hospital, $19 million for local airport upgrades, $30 million for council roads and bridges … the list goes on.
“These are the things that will make a real difference to our community ... ” he said.