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Hopes dashed

Saturday, 5th April, 2014

Local Nationals MP John Williams Local Nationals MP John Williams

By Andrew Robertson

Local Nationals MP John Williams has all but conceded his tilt at the Upper House is over following a disappointing preselection ballot yesterday.
Mr Williams will be one of five NSW Nationals running for the Legislative Council at next year’s State election after he secured a spot on the Nationals’ ticket yesterday.
But the Member for Murray-Darling said his fourth position meant he had little hope of winning a seat.  
“At this stage it looks like an unwinnable position,” Mr Williams said after voting which took most of the day.
Barring a large swing to the coalition in March, he said only the first three Nationals’ candidates on the combined Liberal-Nationals ticket would win seats.
The three candidates ahead of Mr Williams are Nationals state director Ben Franklin, Cooma-Monaro Shire Council deputy mayor Bronnie Taylor, and MLC Trevor Khan.
The fifth position will be filled by Parliamentary Secretary for Regional Health Melinda Pavey, who has served in the Legislative Council since 2002.
Mr Williams’ decision to run for Upper House pre-selection came after the redrawing of the state’s electoral boundaries which will see his seat of Murray-Darling scrapped.
He was one of eight candidates seeking preselection from the central council yesterday which voted in the theatrette of Parliament House.
Each candidate spoke for 10 minutes then answered questions for a further 10 minutes before the 84 representatives began voting.
Mr Williams said he only narrowly missed out on finishing higher after receiving the second highest number of primary votes in the first three ballots.
But he said the flow of preferences cost him dearly.
“I had pretty good support but ... I didn’t have the preferences to get me through.”
He admitted the result had left him very disappointed.
“I put a lot of effort into winning (a spot) and it didn’t come off, but that’s democracy at work.
“It was one of those things.”   
Nationals’ state chairman Niall Blair said that the candidates offered a diverse range of skills, experiences and backgrounds.
“Each of the eight candidates would have made excellent representatives for the people of regional New South Wales, and the quality of those who were chosen is a testament to the depth of talent we had in this preselection” Mr Blair said.
He congratulated all the candidates on the good spirit displayed throughout what was a very competitive process.
“Unfortunately only five people could be successful today, but each of the candidates conducted themselves with the utmost dignity, and I am certain that they will all play a significant role in our election campaign.”

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