JEREMY CHALLACOMBE: Can?t pick a winner.
JEREMY CHALLACOMBE: Can?t pick a winner.

Party faithful gather to anoint chosen one for Federal election

ALEX EASTON THE starter's gun will fire on the Federal election campaign in Page today, but only one horse will leave the stall.

Up to 300 National Party members from Woodenbong in the north to Tyringham, south of Nymboida, will this morning gather at the Lismore Workers Club to select a candidate to replace retiring MP Ian Causley at the next Federal election, which is due late this year.

That means the Nationals will have a candidate, campaigning for the seat by this afternoon, while the Labor Party pre-selection remains up to two months away. Labor sources yesterday said their pre-selection was likely to be called within a month, with the vote to be held a month after that.

It is understood some high-profile party members, including Clarence Mayor Ian Tiley and former Lismore-based State MP Janelle Saffin, are considering. The Nationals have gathered their own high-profile selection, including top GP Sue Page, Clarence Valley councillor Chris Gulaptis, Kyogle Mayor Ernie Bennett, Ballina councillor Sharon Cadwallader, and radio man Neil Marks.

Nationals Page Federal Electorate Council chairman Jeremy Challacombe yesterday said he couldn't tip a candidate to win pre-selection..

That fits with the variety in tipping around the Nationals camp. It's not that no one will give a quiet tip, it's that the favourites are so varied. The general depiction in the lead-up to the vote has been of a two-horse race, with the candidates taking turns at being one of the horses.

Mr Challacombe said the logistics of gathering members to one point of an electorate that covers more than 16,000 square kilometres had been surprisingly straightforward. While individual candidates were working to make sure their supporters could get to the vote, few members had taken up offers by the party to organise transport.



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