Three-cornered contest looms in Eden-Monaro

The Nationals have signalled their intention to contest the former bellwether seat of Eden-Monaro at the next federal election in what would create a rare three-cornered contest.

While the focus in the Tumut region has been on state politics over recent weeks following Daryl Maguire’s ICAC appearance and subsequent resignation, the federal election is also looming, and is expected in either April or May.

The Nationals have invited expressions of interest from potential candidates for the 2019 election. The Nats are calling for CVs and indicated applications would close August 30.

Bronnie Taylor, a NSW Upper House member, has previously been mentioned as a possible Nationals candidate. She’s a former Cooma-Monaro councillor.

However, John Larter, who is hoping to gain Liberal Party pre-selection for the vacant state seat of Wagga, said the Coalition’s chances in Eden-Monaro would not be helped by a three-cornered contest.

“Mike Kelly (sitting Labor MP) has shown he’s an effective campaigner, although that’s the only thing he does well. Kelly may not do anything once he actually gets in to the job, but he outcampaigned Peter Hendy (Liberal candidate) last time around,” Mr Larter said.

“I’d suggest the Coalition would be better off focusing on defeating Labor, rather than have to worry about defeating each other as well.

“Hopefully calmer heads can prevail, and what happened in Wagga will follow in Eden-Monaro,” Mr Larter said.

While the Nationals considered running a candidate in Wagga in the upcoming state by-election on September 8, they ultimately decided against it, leaving the Liberals to stand.

It would be the first three-cornered contest in Eden-Monaro since 1993, though Tumut residents are no stranger to the scenario, having endured a stoush among the Coalition partners in the seat of Riverina in 2010, in which Michael McCormack prevailed.

The Liberals have five pre-selection candidates for Eden-Monaro: Jerry Nockles, Nigel Catchlove, Matthew Kelly, Fiona Kotvojs and Jo Leatham.

Mr Nockles, who is part of senator Jim Nolan’s staff, has been seen in this area a number of times.

He is the brother of Rod Nockles, who was the delegate appointed to report to the state government on the proposal to merger the Tumbarumba and Tumut councils.

Ms Kovojs works for Oxfam, Mr Catchlove is a former combat engineer.

Meanwhile, Snowy Valleys residents may be spared a by-election.

Councillors John Larter and Julia Ham are gunning for Liberals pre-selection in the vacant seat of Wagga.

It’s understood that if either of the councillors gains pre-selection, and then wins the subsequent by-election, they will continue in their role as a councillor, alongside State MP duties.

That would avoid a council by-election to go alongside the state by-election on September 8, the state election next March, and next year’s federal election.

The Liberal Party is due to select its candidate for Wagga on Saturday.