The Nationals have preselected a candidate for the Federal seat of Cowper today and the preselection for the seat of Coffs Harbour is to follow later in the month.
The Nationals have preselected a candidate for the Federal seat of Cowper today and the preselection for the seat of Coffs Harbour is to follow later in the month. Cathy Adams

Nationals preselect candidate who'll stand to retain Cowper

PORT Macquarie solicitor Patrick Conaghan has this afternoon prevailed in a four candidate pre-selection for the Federal seat of Cowper. 

Mr Conaghan won the party's pre-selection ballot of members ahead of newsagent Chris Genders, electrician Jamie Harrison and pharmacist Judy Plunkett in Macksville today. 

"I want to thank the members of our Party for the trust they've placed in me and I am committed to working hard for the people of Cowper," Mr Conaghan said.

"I also want to thank Luke Hartsuyker for his years of service to the Party and our communities."

NSW Nationals Chairman Bede Burke said it was critical the people of Cowper continued to have a strong voice in Parliament and he believed Patrick Conaghan was the right person for the job.

"Patrick Conaghan has already demonstrated a commitment to the community and has a desire to work hard for the people of Cowper," Mr Burke said.

"It's important we continue to have a strong voice in Parliament. I'm confident Patrick will be another strong Nationals MP that will work hard for the people."

Port Macquarie solicitor Patrick Conaghan has today won preselection for the Nationals to contest the Federal seat of Cowper at the next election.
Port Macquarie solicitor Patrick Conaghan has today won preselection for the Nationals to contest the Federal seat of Cowper at the next election.

Mr Conaghan will represent the party at next year's Federal Election after longstanding Coffs Harbour-based incumbent Luke Hartsuyker, who has held the seat for 17 years announced he will retire at the next election. 

All four party preselection candidates were based in Port Macquarie, making the Coffs Coast vote all important at the next election with Labor Candidate Andrew Woodward based in the northern half of the electorate along with the Greens candidate Coffs Harbour City councillor Sally Townley. 

Mr Conaghan's back story is that he has previously worked as a Sydney-based solicitor, a police officer and a police prosecutor. 

Cowper MP Luke Hartsuyker.
Cowper MP Luke Hartsuyker. Trevor Veale

He will start campaigning safe in the knowledge that Cowper has been held by the Nationals and Country party for all but two years in its history. 

The four-way Port Macquarie-based preselection may prove a strong move for The Nationals considering that former independent member for Lyne, Rob Oakeshott who contested the last Federal election in Cowper is yet to confirm whether he will stand again. 

The Nationals Coffs Harbour branch now moves ahead with its preselection process to find a candidate to replace retiring Member for Coffs Harbour Andrew Fraser, who is stepping down at the State Election in March after 28 years in State Parliament. 

Outgoing State Member for Coffs Harbour Andrew Fraser.
Outgoing State Member for Coffs Harbour Andrew Fraser. Trevor Veale

It is understood candidates to express an interest in nominating for the preselection process for Coffs Harbour include Oz Group chairman Gurmesh Singh, Coffs Harbour real estate agent and former councillor Kerry Hines, Coffs Harbour Deputy Mayor and councillor Tegan Swan, serving police officer Detective Inspector Darren Jameson and solicitor Brett Marshall. 

The party's local preselection will be held later this month. 

Woolgoolga-based former public servant Tony Judge will stand for the Labor Party in the State Election.

The Shooters, Fishers and Farmers are also mounting a bid for the seat, announcing its party candidate next weekend.  



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