NATIONAL Party deputy leader Bridget McKenzie’s plan to relocate her electoral office to Wodonga from Bendigo has rankled a member of the Victorian Liberal Party executive.
Wangaratta’s Greg Mirabella said the move was evidence of “strong connections” between the National Party and member for Indi Cathy McGowan, who is no certainty to make a bid for a third term in the federal parliament at the next election.
Senator McKenzie has been constantly linked to a shot at the lower house seat of Indi, which would also open the door to a run at the party leadership.
But all hinges on her quitting the Senate as former leader Barnaby Joyce did in 2013 when he successfully stood for the seat of New England.
Mr Mirabella, whose wife Sophie lost the last two elections to McGowan, has been touted as a potential Liberal contender for Indi.
“Bridget McKenzie and other Nationals have campaigned for and with Ms McGowan,” Mr Mirabella said.
“It’s an established fact under the Coalition agreement the Nationals get the No.2 spot on the senate ticket which they would otherwise struggle to attain.
“To have a taxpayer-funded senator setting up an office in Wodonga, paving the way to have a crack at Indi, will infuriate the Liberal membership.
“Senator McKenzie is a senator by the gift of the Victorian Liberals.”
Mr Mirabella remained tight-lipped on his preselection intentions.
“I’ve kept an open mind on whether to stand, but recently indicated to people within the party I would likely not go down that path,” he said.
Senator McKenzie confirmed a move to Wodonga would take place in the new year.
“I grew up in the electorate, born and raised, and have always been interested in eventually getting there,” she told the ABC.
“It has taken a few years, but we’ve finally got approval.”
Asked about running in Indi, Senator McKenzie said: “Well I haven’t made that decision, but I have made the decision to shift my electorate office to Wodonga and I’m looking forward to opening it in the new year.”
Marty Corboy, who stood for the Nationals at the 2016 election, said on the propsect of Senator McKenzie standing in Indi: “It is my view that the National Party is blessed with talent and we have the most democratic system of preselection in Australia.
“My focus right now is getting Tim McCurdy re-elected to the Victorian parliament.”
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