FORMER Benalla MP Denise Allen is looking to re-enter state politics as the Labor party’s candidate for Euroa at this year’s state election.
Ms Allen, 59, told The Border Mail yesterday she would nominate for pre-selection for the new seat, which takes in much of her old Benalla electorate, after last year’s electoral boundary shake-up.
The revelation came as Nationals member Marty Corboy announced he, too, would run for Euroa pre-selection.
The two potential candidates have emerged just days after Benalla Nationals MP Bill Sykes announced he would retire at the November election after 11 years in parliament.
His departure leaves the race wide open for the newly-formed electorate, which takes in most of Benalla and much of the Seymour electorate.
There is speculation whether there will be two Coalition candidates on polling day, with Seymour Liberal MP Cindy McLeish confirming she’ll run for pre-selection in Eildon, a new seat that covers Mansfield.
Ms Allen, who has lived in Seymour for the past five years, was elected to Benalla in the 2000 by-election triggered by the resignation of former Nationals leader and Deputy Premier Pat McNamara.
She defeated Dr Sykes by just over 200 votes, but lost to him two years later in the 2002 state election.
She then ran as a People Power candidate in the upper house in 2006 and last year nominated as the ALP candidate for Indi but was deemed ineligible.
Ms Allen said although the ALP had not yet opened pre-selection for Euroa, the party would “absolutely, without a doubt” put forward candidates in every seat.
“Euroa needs a 13 per cent swing (to Labor) but I think because it’s a completely new seat, Sykes retiring, and with no-one knowing what the Liberals are going to do, it’s going to be a huge contest,” she said.
TAFE funding, rural mental health, disability services and access and WorkCover would be some of the areas she would be focused on.
Ms Allen said she believed some in the farming community were disillusioned with the Nationals, who were “always the bridesmaid” to the Liberal Party.
Mr Corboy, 34, was confident the Nationals could win Euroa, despite not having a presence in the lower half of the new electorate for many years.
Mr Corboy lives in Oxley but runs a farm at Taminick, which falls in Euroa, and is turning to state politics after an unsuccessful tilt at the Senate at last year’s federal election.
“Bill Sykes and Paul Weller (MP of the abolished seat of Rodney) ... are both clear examples to me of what it is to be a National,” he said.
Mr Corboy said he was unaware of any other Nationals candidates who might seek pre-selection for Euroa at this stage, but he expected there would be.
Nationals’ state director Jenny Hammett said pre-selection for Euroa and Ovens Valley — taking in most of Murray Valley, held by Tim McCurdy — would open on Friday.
The Liberals this week opened pre-selection for 55 seats, including Benambra, where sitting MP Bill Tilley has already said he intended to run for a third term.
A Liberal party spokeswoman said no decision had been made if the party would run at candidate in Euroa and she could not say when it would be decided.
It is understood the Liberals do not intend to run a candidate in Ovens Valley because of the Coalition agreement not to oppose sitting MPs.