Challenge to Tilley ‘shock’

Bill Tilley ... ‘not under threat’ from Mark Byatt.
Bill Tilley ... ‘not under threat’ from Mark Byatt.

WODONGA Liberal Party branch president Graeme Welsh says he would be shocked if Wodonga mayor Mark Byatt mounts a pre- selection challenge to the member for Benambra, Bill Tilley.

Mr Welsh said yesterday he was unaware of any plans by Cr Byatt to contest preselection, which falls next year for the 2014 state election.

Cr Byatt is a lapsed member of the local branch, but didn’t rule out making a run for the Victorian Parliament after being re-elected Wodonga mayor on Wednesday night.

“I don’t know what his qualifications and background are,” Mr Welsh said.

“I only know he was in charge of a tourist bureau and they shut it down.

“If Bill had to fight it would be up to Bill to present himself.

“I would be most surprised if it happened.”

Mr Welsh said a succession of ministerial visits to the electorate in recent months was proof Mr Tilley had traction within the Coalition government despite being dumped as a parliamentary secretary last year.

Ryan Smith’s visit to Benambra yesterday followed those of deputy leader Peter Ryan, Andrew McIntosh, Peter Walsh, Hugh Delahunty, Martin Dixon and Peter Hall since mid-year.

Health Minister David Davis has also been pencilled in for a pre-Christmas visit.

“We’ve had that many up here I’ve lost count,” Mr Welsh said.

“It is the best coverage we’ve had for a hell of a long time.

“If anybody up here is unhappy with the job he is doing, they should take a hard look at themselves.

“What he is not getting is credit for what he has actually achieved.

“If I am still involved when it comes up again, I will be in there pushing the barrow for him.”