Nationals have a large field of nominees for pre-selection
THE Nationals say the party has had such strong interest in it's pre-selection process to find a candidate for the Federal seat of Cowper that the close of nominations has been extended until next Wednesday.
The party's call for nominations were initially set to close last Friday, but a NSW Nationals spokesman confirmed there had been an extension until Wednesday, October 3.
Labor's candidate for Cowper Andrew Woodward, who is waiting to find out his political rival, asked the question as to when a successor to the Nationals retiring incumbent Luke Hartsuyker will be endorsed and publicly announced.
"The National Party is struggling to find a candidate for Cowper," Mr Woodward said.
"It is incredible to think that they can't find an acceptable candidate for a seat they have held for 97 out of the last 99 years.
"The outgoing member announced on August 8 that he was departing.
"Six weeks on; the National Party can't come up with anyone they're happy to win."
The Nationals NSW head office fired back saying a wealth of quality candidates had already expressed their desire to stand for pre-selection with the hope of being endorsed to contest next year's election.
"Labor is struggling to get cut-through in Cowper," the Nationals head office said in a statement.
"The fact is we've got so many quality candidates and we're trying to find a date to suit them all.
"The change in date is simply an administrative matter that Labor is trying to beat up, that's all."
Mr Woodward said he expected to find out who his political rival would be in December, but The Nationals indicated it could be much sooner than that.
Deputy Prime Minister and Nationals leader Michael McCormack was in Coffs Harbour this week to announce the concept design for the Coffs Harbour Pacific Highway Bypass project with Mr Hartsuyker, so no doubt planning and interviews of candidates may be well under way already.
In Cowper so far Mr Woodward has been pre-selected for Labor and Coffs Harbour City councillor and environmental scientist Sally Townley has been endorsed for the Greens.
Further north, and Kevin Hogan was pre-selected by the Nationals to re-contest the seat of Page at the weekend.
Labor has pre-selected Casino's Patrick Deegan and the Greens have endorsed Daniel Reid as the party's candidate.