It seems highly likely that the Nationals will contest the currently Labor-held seat of Eden-Monaro, which includes Tumut, in the next Federal election.
This would see them battling Labor and their Coalition partners, the Liberals, for an electorate in a three-way contest that hasn’t occurred since 1993.
The Nationals haven’t officially confirmed that they will contest Eden-Monaro in the next federal election, due for 2019, but a Facebook page ‘Nationals for Eden-Monaro’ has been created, and they have certainly been hinting that running a candidate is in the works.
“The Coalition agreement quite clearly states that when you’ve got a seat that’s not held by the Coalition you are entitled, if you choose – if you choose, we haven’t made that choice yet – you can contest it,” said leader of the Nationals Barnaby Joyce.
The seat is currently held by Dr Mike Kelly, a former Colonel in the Australian army, who bested Liberal candidate Dr Peter Hendy in the 2016 election with a 5.87 per cent swing towards Labor.
Dr Kelly said he wouldn’t be surprised if the Nationals did run a candidate, but that he’s confident of Eden-Monaro voters’ continued support.
“With over 170 years of family tradition in this region, Eden-Monaro is part of my blood and I have committed the remainder of my working life to its service,” he said.
“I will continue to fight for the interests of rural and regional Australia as the soul of the nation, whose potential must be fully realised.”
He pointed to council mergers, which was a NSW state Coalition policy, as an example of why he believes the Nationals couldn’t be trusted to represent the region.
“This news is just another clear sign of the dysfunction and disunity of a Turnbull Government that is falling to pieces,” he said.
“The last thing the people of Eden-Monaro need is two Coalition candidates bringing their Canberra political power games into our local politics again – just like Peter Henry did when he used his house in Queanbeyan to plan the spill that brought down Tony Abbott.
“These are the sort of political insider games that were rejected by the people of Eden-Monaro at the last Federal Election. They sent a clear message; they want a Member of Parliament who is passionate about the region, works hard and listens to them.
“The Nationals are part of the state Coalition government and approved cuts to our local TAFEs, the privatisation of hospitals and did nothing while people in rural and regional New South Wales protested against forced mergers of their local councils.
“So why are they talking about running two candidates in Eden-Monaro? Because the Turnbull Government is tearing itself apart.”
Tumut became a part of Eden-Monaro in 2016, after bouncing between the Riverina, which is held by Nationals MP Michael McCormack, and Eden-Monaro over the past decade as the Australian Electoral Commission redrew electoral boundaries.
The National Party has never held Eden-Monaro, which currently includes Adaminaby, Adelong, Batlow, Bega, Berridale, Bodalla, Bombala, Braidwood, Bungendore, Cabramurra, Captains Flat, Cooma, Dalmeny, Delegate, Eden, Jindabyne, Merimbula, Murrumbateman, Narooma, Queanbeyan, Talbingo, Tathra, Tumbarumba, Tumut and Yass.