FORMER federal senator Ursula Stephens will lodge her Labor pre-selection nomination for the seat of Goulburn today.
She has confirmed to the Goulburn Post that, subject to party endorsement, she will take on Liberal incumbent Pru Goward at the March state election.
“Tomorrow, I’m taking my nomination to Sydney,” she said yesterday.
But at least two other high-calibre potential candidates will also lodge nominations: Goulburn Mulwaree councillor Robin Saville and Yass-based data analyst Anna Ritson.
“I’ve been talking to people this week and yes that’s the intention.
I’ve started the process,” Cr Saville said yesterday.
He hinted that Dr Stephens won’t have it all her own way.
“There are some local ALP people determined that the candidate not be Ursula Stephens,” he said.
Ms Ritson, Yass Valley Labor Branch secretary, said Labor was “absolutely committed” to winning the seat of Goulburn at next year’s state election.
“From the party perspective, it’s almost less about who the candidate is and more about running a really great campaign,” she said.
“There’s been quite a lot of interest and positivity coming from the region and there’s a big appetite for change. Whoever the candidate happens to be, they’ve got the backing of all three branches who are ready to run a campaign the likes of which the region has never seen from the Labor Party.
“We’ve got our boxing gloves on, laced up and we are ready to fight.”
She attributed the change in the wind to dissatisfaction among those in the Yass Valley region as to the redistribution dramas between the Liberals and National Party, which in her belief saw sitting Burrinjuck MP Katrina Hodgkinson “bullied” out of running.
“Katrina was well liked and well supported.
As far as people in this town are concerned they felt that she was pretty hard done by.
People aren’t happy about the way it was handled at all.”
Country Labor opened its weeklong preselection ballot period on Monday.
If more than one nomination is received, a rank and file vote will be held on November 1 with credentialling on October 23.
“If only one nomination is received we will have a candidate sooner and enter the field of battle,” president of the Goulburn branch Jason Shepherd said.
Dr Stephens last month said her decision to nominate hinged on Labor allocating sufficient resources towards the campaign.
“I said if we are to have a decent tilt at this seat for the people of Goulburn, we need the resources,” she told the Post last month.
The Post understands the three Goulburn electorate Labor branches have sufficient cash armoury to convince Dr Stephens to run.
Mr Shepherd has said publicly Labor was a big chance of unseating Ms Goward at the March 28 poll.
A record crowd at his Branch’s most recent meeting, coupled with renewed optimism and volunteer interest, had Labor poised for an upset victory, he says.
Ms Goward; Green Iain Fyfe and Christian Democrat Adrian Van Der Byl are already confirmed candidates.