Nats give Gulaptis tick of approval to fight for Page
CLARENCE Valley councillor Chris Gulaptis will lead the Nationals' fight to hold Page at this year's Federal election after comfortably winning the party's pre-selection vote on Saturday.
About 220 of the party's 300-plus Page members travelled from across the 16,000 square kilometre seat to the pre-selection vote at the Lismore Workers Club, with more than half of those giving Mr Gulaptis their first preference vote.
Speaking after the vote, Mr Gulaptis, 52, said he felt honoured by the confidence party members had shown in him and said he would work to meet their expectations of him.
Mr Gulaptis said he would campaign heavily on infrastructure issues, with an emphasis on the Pacific Highway and health.
Beyond that, he vowed to champion Nationals policy in the region.
"I believe in Nationals policy and that's why I'm the candidate," he said.
If the former Maclean mayor won the seat for the Nationals at the election, he would keep Mr Causley's office in Lismore.
Nationals Page Federal electorate Council chairman Jeremy Challacombe said Mr Gulaptis' election as candidate at least two months ahead of Labor gave the Nationals a significant advantage in the seat, which the new candidate would press home with an immediate start to his campaign. Initially, at least, Mr Gulaptis' campaign would be managed by the Nationals' Richmond Federal Electorate Council chairman, Murray Lees, who had just run Geoff Provest's successful campaign for Tweed in the State election.
Page MP Ian Causley, who will retire at the Federal election, congratulated Mr Gulaptis and said he would be happy to help with the campaign, if that help was needed.
Pre-selection candidate Sue Page also congratulated Mr Gulaptis, conceding she was disappointed at her loss, but adding she was glad the election had been decided so decisively.
Dr Page said each of the pre-selection candidates had agreed before the vote to help whoever won with their campaign.