Federal seats up in air for Liberals
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.