Fed­eral seats up in air for Lib­er­als

Mercury (Hobart) - - NEWSFRONT - EMILY BAKER

THE Lib­er­als are yet to an­nounce their fed­eral can­di­dates for the Tas­ma­nian elec­torates of Bass and Lyons, de­spite la­belling the seats winnable at their State Coun­cil and al­ready declar­ing their men for Brad­don and Franklin.

Party state di­rec­tor Sam McQuestin said the Lib­er­als had de­cided to wait for lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tions to end be­fore clos­ing nom­i­na­tions for the two La­bor-held seats. Ex­pres­sions of in­ter­est were ad­ver­tised af­ter the March state elec­tion but fol­low-up no­tices declar­ing when nom­i­na­tions for those seats would close had not yet been dis­trib­uted.

For­mer can­di­date for Bass in the state elec­tion Si­mon Wood was not suc­cess­ful in his re­cent bid for re-elec­tion to the City of Launceston coun­cil and said while he was keen to help Bass re­turn to the Lib­er­als “in what ca­pac­ity, frankly, I have no idea”.

Re-elected Ge­orge Town Mayor Brid­get Archer said she had not been ap­proached to run for Bass and also had not de­cided whether she would put her hand up for the job.

“If I were to con­sider stand­ing for any other elec­tion it would have to be on the ba­sis that it was the right thing to do at the time,” Cr Archer said. “I wouldn’t say no but pre­s­e­lec­tion hasn’t hap­pened at this stage.”

Dorset Mayor Greg Howard, pres­i­dent of the Lib­er­als’ Scotts­dale branch, said he would not run for Bass but mem­bers had ap­proached him about run­ning for the seat.

“If I was go­ing to do it I wouldn’t have stood for lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tions,” Cr Howard said.

For­mer Lyons Lib­eral MHR Eric Hutchin­son, who lost the sprawl­ing elec­torate to La­bor’s Brian Mitchell in 2016, said he was fo­cused on his role as Nor­folk Is­land ad­min­is­tra­tor un­til its con­clu­sion in March. He added that be­cause of his role on Nor­folk Is­land it would not be ap­pro­pri­ate for him to talk about fed­eral pol­i­tics and he would not com­ment fur­ther.

For­mer Me­an­der Val­ley mayor Craig Perkins said he would not nom­i­nate for Lyons, and state Lib­eral pres­i­dent Ge­off Page, who had pre­vi­ously run for the seat, could not be con­tacted.

Mr McQuestin said: “The party is mov­ing through its pre­s­e­lec­tion process, aim­ing to be com­plete in the com­ing weeks. We be­lieve that giv­ing our can­di­dates six months in the field is suf­fi­cient, es­pe­cially where they have lo­cal gov­ern­ment ex­pe­ri­ence any­way.”

The party’s ap­proach sits in stark con­trast to the lead-up to the 2013 elec­tion.

For­mer Lib­eral Bass MHR An­drew Nikolic moved from Can­berra to Launceston to cam­paign for two years from his en­dorse­ment in July 2011 to win the seat in No­vem­ber 2013.

That elec­torate is now rep­re­sented by La­bor MHR Ross Hart. The fed­eral elec­tion has not been called but is fore­cast to be be­fore June next year.

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