Also in local politics:
THE Nationals have been forced to refute suggestions the party will run dead in Indi at the next federal election if Sophie Mirabella is pre-selected as the Liberal candidate tomorrow.
Tense relations between the Coalition partners in Indi resurfaced this week when a mystery senior Nationals figure told The Australian newspaper the party “hated” the former Indi MP and would do everything to prevent her reclaiming the seat.
State director Jenny Hammett said the comments attributed to the anonymous figure weren’t “sanctioned” by party headquarters and the Nationals were serious about winning Indi.
Last weekend the party committed to running a candidate in Indi for the first time since 2001 when Mrs Mirabella won the seat for the Liberals.
“They were not the thoughts which reflect the current thinking of the Nationals,” Ms Hammett said.
“We are very serious about providing a genuine alternative to the voters.
“The alternative will be a strong voice for Indi who can influence policy outcomes for regional Australia.”
Ms Hammett said The Nationals didn’t “hate” Mrs Mirabella.
North East members Marty Corboy and Bernard Gaffney are expected to be among the contenders when Nationals officially begin pre-selection.
The Border Mail understands The Nationals have canvassed the option of asking state MP Steph Ryan to make a switch to federal politics and contest Indi.
But the move is considered a long-shot with Ms Ryan only elected to state Parliament at the last election and elevated to deputy leader of the party in Victoria.
The Liberals were upset former Nationals state MP Ken Jasper publicly campaigned for the election of independent Cathy McGowan ahead of Mrs Mirabella in 2013.
Mr Jasper also upset some sections of his own party for supporting a non-Coalition candidate, who beat Mrs Mirabella by less than 500 votes.
Mrs Mirabella is locked in a three-way tussle for Liberal pre-selection.
Her rivals are Wodonga-based businessman Kevin Ekendahl and Melbourne-based Andrew Walpole.
Mrs Mirabella was unable to comment on the newspaper article due to pre-selection rules preventing candidates from speaking publicly.