THE chief of staff to leader of the Nationals Peter Walsh has nominated for pre-selection for Damian Drum’s Northern Victoria seat.
Mr Drum has been pre-selected as the Nationals candidate for the federal seat of Murray and will resign from state politics when Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull calls the election.
Melbourne-based Luke O’Sullivan, 44, will nominate for Mr Drum’s state seat.
Originally of Patchewollock, in the Mallee, Mr O’Sullivan will relocate if successful in gaining the party’s endorsement for the role.
Mr Walsh said he believed there would be a ‘very large field’ of people vying for Mr Drum’s role, but stressed the position was not yet vacant.
The Nationals will pre-select candidates for the role Mr Drum will vacate in the upper house of the Victorian Parliament.
The successful candidate will hold the seat until the next state election in 2018.
Mr O’Sullivan was the first contender to step forward following the announcement – others have yet to make their intentions known.
“One of the things that is important is, if they are they successful candidate, that they reside in the electorate in future,” Mr Walsh said.
Mr O’Sullivan’s family has had a long history in politics, particularly with the Nationals, of which his father Brian was state president.
“As a kid ... around the kitchen table we would discuss politics at length,” Mr O’Sullivan said.
He pursued that passion as an adult, also serving as chief of staff to the Minister for Water and Minister for Agriculture in the previous Coalition government.
“Prior to this I was state director of the Nationals when we won the seats of Mildura, Morwell and Gippsland East and obtained our highest representation in the Parliament for 30 years,” Mr O’Sullivan said.
He stood for pre-selection against Senator for Victoria Bridget McKenzie six years ago.
“I’m now a bit more experienced and a bit wiser than I was at that point and I think the time is right for me,” he said.
“I thought I wouldn’t lose a moment.”
Mr O’Sullivan grew up on a farm in Patchewollock which contractors are now working.
He said he was passionate about making sure northern Victorians got their fair share from governments.
If pre-selected, he plans to make improving infrastructure the cornerstone of his campaign.
Mr Drum is able to contest the seat of Murray because sitting member Sharman Stone will not stand for re-election at the next federal election.
Her resignation creates three possibilities: the Liberals could continue their 20-year reign in Murray; the Nationals could reclaim the seat they have traditionally held; or a new party might rise to power in the electorate.