Nats are happy as Larry for poll
THE race for Nationals' preselection in the federal seat of Richmond is on, with at least three high-profile candidates, including former Howard Government minister Larry Anthony, believed to be in the running.
A source close to the party told the Tweed Daily News Mr Anthony - the son of former Deputy Prime Minister Doug Anthony - was a "very good chance" to vie for pre-selection.
He will be up against previous candidate Matthew Fraser, who has confirmed his intention to run again.
Tweed Shire councillor Carolyn Byrne is also believed to be considering throwing her hat into the ring.
The chosen candidate will run against sitting Labor MP Justine Elliot, who wrested the seat off Mr Anthony in 2004.
The Nationals are yet to confirm their candidate for Richmond, waiting for the Australian Electoral Commission to finalise new federal boundaries for NSW, expected by February 25 .
In a draft redistribution released for comment last October, the more conservative-leaning area of Ballina was included in the new boundary, while the left-leaning area of Nimbin was included in the neighbouring seat of Page.
The election is due by January 2017, but most expect it around September.
The new boundary, combined with the ascension of Malcolm Turnbull to prime minister, has excited local Nationals, who believe the seat is now within grasp.
Larry Anthony - who held the seat from 1996 to 2004 before being ousted by Mrs Elliot - was elected president of the Federal Nationals at the party's conference last September, indicating his interest in politics remains high.
Contacted by the TDN, Mr Anthony would not rule out running for Richmond again.
"My role (as federal Nationals president) is an administrative role, it is not a parliamentary role, but it is up to the Richmond Electoral Council to decide who they want," he said.
"No doubt there will be a number of candidates but they can't really do it until the electoral boundaries are finalised from my understanding."
Mr Anthony said if the AEC's draft boundaries remained in place, "Richmond is definitely in play".
"It's tough. I know personally, after five elections, but I think it is achievable," he said.
"We have a new prime minister, a new sense of hope and direction that I think the people of Richmond will be a bit more discerning in their vote next time.
"It will still be hard. It is not an easy seat. We will have to earn it if Matthew (Fraser) is the candidate or someone else."
Banora Point businessman Matthew Fraser, who owns a local fast-food outlet, confirmed he would put his hand up for preselection again after dramatically reducing Mrs Elliot's margin at the 2013 poll.
"I won a contested preselection last time and I expect a contested preselection this time," Mr Fraser said.
"That's the way democracy works and I look forward to it."
Cr Byrne declined to confirm her intention to run, however sources said she was considering the idea.
Mrs Elliot, who won the 2013 poll on Greens' preferences, will represent Labor again, while Fingal resident Dawn Walker will run for The Greens.