THE ongoing speculation about Senator Bridget McKenzie making a switch to the lower house and contesting Indi at the federal election will drag on for another month at least.
Senator McKenzie once again kept the option of having a shot at Indi alive in a visit to Albury yesterday to highlight the importance of water safety in the peak holiday period after a recent spate of drownings.
She will open an electorate office in Wodonga early in the new year in a move which kills off any chance of contesting preselection in the federal seat of Mallee made vacant by the recent resignation of Andrew Broad.
The Mallee preselection will be held on January 19 and the National Party doesn’t have an obvious track record of parachuting in a candidate from outside as would be the case with Senator McKenzie.
The Nationals Indi preselection will be the next cab off the rank after Mallee with mid-February being confirmed by party sources as the most likely timing.
If a suitable “Orange Army” candidate comes forward then Ms McGowan will step aside which could then trigger a shot at Indi by the senator who has developed a high profile presence in the electorate in the last two years including securing an additional $135 million for the North-East railway line.
“I’m in no hurry,” Senator McKenzie said.
“I’ve been elected to the Senate as you all know here locally for six years.
“That term is up in 2022 and I’m really relishing the role of delivering for regional Victoria and the nation more broadly.
“I’m in no hurry to move to the lower house.”
She said she remained “unimpressed” with events which led to Mr Broad standing down.
“I made my statement very, very clear the day after those allegations were revealed,” she said.
“Andrew has made the right decision, he is retiring from politics and the Mallee will hopefully be served by another National Party MP come the federal election.”
The Plan-B for the Nationals in Indi is likely to be Wangaratta’s Marty Corboy who contested the 2016 Indi election.
He finished third behind Ms McGowan and behind Liberal and former Indi MP Sophie Mirabella with 17.2 per cent of the primary vote count.