THE battle lines have been drawn in the new state seat of Euroa with the Liberal Party confirming Benalla physio-therapist Tony Schneider as its candidate for the November election.
Mr Schneider will not only tackle Labor’s Clare Malcolm, but will also go up against the National Party’s Stephanie Ryan in a potentially divisive contest for the Coalition.
His pre-selection was confirmed by Liberal headquarters on Thursday night.
Mr Schneider has been a member of the Liberal Party since 2002 and was a central figure in the failed federal showdown in Indi last year when independent Cathy McGowan rolled incumbent Sophie Mirabella.
Ms McGowan’s campaign was assisted by prominent National Party figures including former member for Murray Valley Ken Jasper and ex-Wangaratta councillor Tammy Atkins, who stood for party pre-selection in 2009.
Mr Schneider said the Indi campaign wasn’t a factor in the party’s decision to challenge the Nationals in the seat which covers a large part of the Indi federal electorate.
“It hasn’t been discussed,” he said.
“It is a completely new situation.
“We wanted to give people a choice to vote Liberal.
“It is about maximising the Coalition vote.”
Mr Jasper’s involvement in the Voice 4 Indi campaign was also criticised by leading National Party figures including the former member for Benalla Pat McNamara.
Mr Schneider has lived in Benalla since 1991 with the rural city the base of retiring member, Bill Sykes, who is also a National.
Mr Schneider is married to Melanie and has three adult children, Danielle, 33, Scott, 24, and Sydney, 20.
He is a part-owner of health and fitness business, North-East Life, which also has clinics in Wangaratta and Yarrawonga.
The business employs 22 staff.
He was a physiotherapist to Victorian and national lacrosse and alpine skiing teams and is a director of the Benalla-based philanthropic organisation, Tomorrow:Today Foundation.
The Liberals have been accused of ignoring the Coalition agreement by The Nationals leader and deputy premier Peter Ryan by fielding a candidate in Euroa.
“There can only be one winner and we don’t want Labor to be that winner,” Mr Schneider said.