THE Nationals have dismissed claims they have been unable to find a suitable candidate to run for the seat of Cowper at the next Federal election.
A spokesperson for the party said an extension of the date to select a new candidate to replace outgoing member Luke Hartsuyker is an “administrative matter”.
“Labor is struggling to get cut-through in Cowper. The fact is we’ve got so many quality candidates and we’re trying to find a date to suit them all. The change in date is simply an administrative matter that Labor is trying to beat up, that’s all,” the spokesperson said.
The Port News asked how many candidates had nominated to date and of the nominees, the breakdown between men and women. The spokesperson was also asked what qualities the party was seeking in a new candidate, given the nominated person will set the direction for Cowper after Mr Hartsuyker’s 17-year stint representing the electorate.
There was no response.
“The Nationals are busy getting on with the job of delivering for the people of Cowper. As we saw with the announcement of the preferred route for the $1.2 billion Coffs Harbour bypass, there are many things more important than the date of a preselection,” the spokesperson added.
The National Party can’t come up with anyone they’re happy to win. This defies belief.ALP candidate for Cowper, Andrew Woodward
ALP candidate for Cowper Andrew Woodward last week declared his disbelief about the extension of nomination date, claiming the Nationals were unable to find a suitable candidate.
“It is incredible to think that they can’t find an acceptable candidate for a seat they have held for 97 out of the last 99 years,” he said in a statement issued to the media.
“The outgoing member announced on 8 August 2018 that he was departing. Six weeks on, the National Party can’t come up with anyone they’re happy to win. This defies belief.”
Nominations for Cowper preselection were to close on September 21. A date for the Cowper preselection meeting has not been set.
The Greens have confirmed Dr Sally Townley as their candidate.
Independent candidate at the 2016 election and former federal MP for Lyne, Rob Oakeshott is yet to confirm if he will contest the next election.
The Cowper electorate includes the cities of Port Macquarie and Coffs Harbour with other major centres including Kempsey, Nambucca Heads, Macskville and South West Rocks.