Bega by-election in limbo land with hurdles to cross

The public statements by Andrew Constance indicating he will resign as the Member for Bega, and nominate for preselection for the Federal seat of Gilmore might well spell a by-election, however, until he gives formal written notice to the Speaker of the NSW Legislative Assembly the process to determine when a by-election in the Bega electorate would be held, and the subsequent opening of nominations for preselection candidates is not yet clear. What is known is that while Andrew Constance remains a NSW Liberal politician he is on the public purse and able to access his entitlements that are understood to be in the order of $4000 per week. Given that Gilmore candidate registrations only require a candidate who is a sitting member to resign that position on the date before registering as a Federal candidate it is little surprise that the sitting Member would hold out until the last and miss out on what looks to be a considerable purse. This week we learnt from retiring Eurobodalla mayor, Liz Innes, of her intentions to stand as a Bega Liberal candidate, if pre-selected by the local Liberal members. While she may well have once been endorsed by Andrew Constance there has been a reasonable volume of water that has passed under that bridge. That endorsement might no longer be the case as the local Liberals are already fearful and suspicious of "parachuted" candidates who have not done the hard yards across the electorate.

Local Liberal party members are being told to stay united and have faith, in changes to the Party’s constitution. They are also being reassured that there will be a contestable preselection plebiscite vote of all eligible Bega SEC members to preselect the candidate for Bega. Subsequently, State Executive will be asked to endorse that preselected candidate.

The message is "The last thing anyone wants is divisiveness. Party members all want to see an open and transparent process for pre-selections, wherever the contest is held."