THE RACE for Liberal Party pre-selection has heated up, with five candidates expected to nominate for the party’s endorsement.
An ad in Saturday’s Bendigo Advertiser called for applications ahead of the July 18 close date.
This comes after Coalition partner the Nationals called for pre-selection candidates earlier this year.
Liberal Party members told the Bendigo Advertiser five people were likely candidates. The list includes former Bendigo West candidate Anita Donlon.
Ms Donlon yesterday failed to rule out a tilt. Instead, she said she was focused on organising anti-carbon tax rallies. “I am flattered that my name is bobbing out there,” Ms Donlon said.
“I am focused on getting Julia Gillard out and Labor out and to make sure the carbon tax is repealed.”
Ms Donlon said she was a spokeswoman for the Consumers and Taxpayers Association, a group that organises anti-carbon tax rallies across the nation.
She ran against Labor’s Maree Edwards and the Nationals’ Steven Oliver in the 2010 state election.
Ms Edwards won the election with 39.3 per cent of the primary vote ahead of Mr Oliver, 21.7 per cent, and Ms Donlon, 20 per cent.
Labor incumbent Steve Gibbons, the longest serving federal Bendigo MP, will retire at the next election. Mr Gibbons attracted 47.65 per cent of first preference votes at the 2010 election.
He gained a 3.40 per cent swing and increased his hold on the seat to 9.5 per cent after defeating Liberal Craig Hunter. Mr Gibbons attracted almost 60 per cent of votes after preferences.
Labor sources told the Bendigo Advertiser there were two certain candidates vying to replace Mr Gibbons. Bendigo lawyer Greg Westbrook has announced his intention to run, with Lisa Chesters also a likely candidate.
The Bendigo Advertiser understands there are discussions with a third candidate who is yet to decide whether to run.
The ALP is yet to open its pre-selection process.
Three ALP MPs – Mr Gibbons, John Brumby and David Kennedy – and two Liberals – Bruce Reid and John Bourchier – have held Bendigo since 1969.