CLOCKING OFF: The Speaker of the Queensland Parliament Peter Wellington is set to retire at the next election.
CLOCKING OFF: The Speaker of the Queensland Parliament Peter Wellington is set to retire at the next election. Mike Knott

Nicklin: Battle heats up to replace Wellington

THE departure of long-serving independent Member Peter Wellington has opened the field in Nicklin with seven candidates nominating for the seat.

The LNP has pre-selected popular Nambour Police Citizen Youth Club officer Sgt Marty Hunt for a seat it has long coveted but not held since Mr Wellington beat Neil Turner (Nationals) in 1998.

Marty Hunt (left), LNP candidate for Nicklin.
Marty Hunt (left), LNP candidate for Nicklin. CONTRIBUTED

The disgraced Brian Austin won the newly created seat for the Nationals in 1986 and held it until 1989 when he was forced to retire over 25 counts of misappropriating public funds which led to a 15 months' jail sentence.

Bob King (Liberals), a former Maroochy Shire chairman, then served for a year from 1989 but was forced out by Mr Turner through a successful appeal to the Court of Disputed Returns.

Mr Wellington seized the seat in 1998 after the former policeman and lawyer had also earlier served as a Maroochy Shire councillor.

His vote was twice required to allow Labor to form government, first in 1998 and more recently at the last state election in 2015. He bows out having enjoyed a 10.01 per cent two-party preferred swing at the 2015 poll and a 4.65 per cent boost in his primary vote and the satisfaction of holding off a number of big-spending LNP challenges.

Following boundary redistribution the seat has contracted from its former eastern limit at Bli Bli to now straddle the Bruce Highway, stretching north and west taking in a number of hinterland towns.

Nicklin takes in Cooran, Federal and Black Mountain to the north, reaches west to Kenilworth and south to Tanawha, Ilkley and Chevallum and covers the bigger population centres of Woombye, Palmwoods, Nambour, Yandina and Cooroy as well as Cooloolabin, Belli Park, Ridgewood, Hunchy, Dulong and Eerwah Vale.

Labor has again nominated Justin Raethel, a 38-year-old technical support officer at Nambour State College who has lived on the Sunshine Coast since 2001 after studying in California. He has a Bachelor of Business degree. At the 2015 election he secured 16.34 per cent of the primary vote.

Labor's Justin Raethel.
Labor's Justin Raethel. Mike Korsos

Builder and small businessman Mick Tyrrell is a first-time Greens candidate who moved to the Sunshine Coast 15 years ago from the Atherton Tablelands for a better life for his children.

Mick Tyrrell, Greens.
Mick Tyrrell, Greens.

He's been motivated by the need for sustainable development, housing and energy affordability and improved public transport.

One Nation candidate Steven Ford has ties to the region dating back to the 1890s and has lived on the Sunshine Coast following a 35-year career managing oil exploration projects in Australia, south east Asia, North Africa and the Middle East. He quit the LNP due to his disappointment with the direction of its leadership.

Steven Ford, One Nation.
Steven Ford, One Nation.

Independent Tony Moore, a married father of four, has previously stood for Family First for the Senate in the Federal seat of Fisher in 2013 and for the state seat of Buderim in 2012.

Tony Moore, Independent.
Tony Moore, Independent. Contributed

Flaxton's Jeffrey Hodges of the Civil Liberties, Consumer Rights and the No Toll Party is a performance consultant and educator with his business Sportsmind.

Jeffrey Hodges, No Tolls.
Jeffrey Hodges, No Tolls.

The final candidate in Nicklin is listed on the ballot at another independent, Rachel Radic of Rosemount.

However, Ms Radic is a candidate for the unregistered Animal Justice Party.

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