THE backlash over the Liberal Party’s decision to run a candidate in Euroa has already begun locally, with Benambra National Party members unlikely to help Benambra MP Bill Tilley in his campaign.
Rutherglen branch president of the Nationals, Don Chambers, said he would be concentrating his support on his party’s bid for Euroa instead, and that other members in the region had indicated they would do the same.
Under the new electoral boundaries, Rutherglen is now part of the Liberal-held Benambra instead of the notionally Nationals-held Ovens Valley.
Without a candidate of their own, Mr Chambers said local branch members would normally help their Coalition partners — but not this time.
The Liberals announced last week they would be running a candidate in Euroa against the Nationals Steph Ryan, which the Nationals believe contravenes the Coalition agreement.
“If there had been a different approach by the Liberals I would have helped up here, but I’m not now,” Mr Chambers said.
“The Nationals have been good supporters of many Liberal policies because of the partnership ... but they should be aware there can be a sting in the wasp’s tail if you push us.”
Mr Tilley holds Benambra by a comfortable 9 per cent margin — but following the Liberals’ shock defeat in Indi in last year’s federal election, the party will not be taking any seat for granted.
Mr Chambers made the comments following his attendance at a meeting of the party’s state councils at the weekend.
There he called for the Nationals to get moving on choosing a candidate for Indi to ensure the party was prepared to make 2016’s federal election a four-cornered contest.
“Where that goes will depend on the National Party people in Indi,” he said.