FOR the first time in its 98-year history the NSW Nationals will conduct an all-woman preselection process as the Cootamundra by-election looms large.
All five candidates who have put their names forward for the Nationals are women, and include Steph Cooke, Miriam Dayhew, Ruth Fagan, Rachel Smith, and Wendy Tuckerman.
- NSW Nationals Cootamundra MP Katrina Hodgkinson to resign from state politics, forcing a by-election
- National Party says current gender representation 'not good enough'
- Cootamundra the first true test for ‘listening’ Nats
A party spokesman said no men had put their hand up for the role.
The by-election follows the resignation of 18-year parliamentary veteran Katrina Hodgkinson earlier this month. If the Nationals retain Cootamundra, their number of female MPs will remain at five out of 24.
The successful candidate will be selected by a plebiscite of all National Party members in Cootamundra on Sunday August 27.
NSW Labor has already named its candidate: 2015 nominee Charlie Sheahan, who will also run for local council next month.
The Shooters, Fishers, and Farmers Party, who won Orange from the Nationals in a byelection last November, said they will announce their candidate soon.
Council mergers are again expected to play a part in the race – as it did in Orange - with Gundagai residents notoriously angry over the forced amalgamation with Cootamundra.
A date for the by-election is yet to be set by state government. It is very likely to be in mid-or-late Spring, again, similar to Orange.
Ms Hodgkinson said she was thrilled with the lineup of talented locals.
“Each and every one of the candidates would make an exceptional Member of Parliament,” she said.
“I encourage all local Party members to turn up to preselection and have their say. Locally, this will be the most significant meeting for the foreseeable future.”
Last year the Nationals announced they were aiming for a 50:50 target of male and female MPs by 2025, and labelled their their current gender representation “not good enough”.
At the 2016 annual conference at Tweed Heads delegates made history by voting in favour of equal female representation on their Central Council.
Here is the background information provided by The NSW Nationals on each Cootamundra candidate:
- Steph Cooke: A local businesswoman who owns florists ‘Native Botanical’ and who had a former corporate career at major companies Coca Cola, Allied Mills, Goodman Fielder and the Baking Industry of NSW.
- Miriam Dayhew: A former nurse and midwife with a 30 year career in health administration, Miriam is currently Ombudsman and Head of Campus at the Charles Sturt University at Wagga Wagga.
- Ruth Fagan: Living in Cowra for 34 years, Ruth has worked as a journalist, tourism manager and has run a number of small businesses in town including a gift shop, a motel, a vineyard and now ‘The Closet’ dress shop. Ruth was first elected to Cowra Council in 2004.
- Rachel Smith: Rachel is veterinarian who lives with her husband and three children on a mixed cropping and sheep property between Young and Cootamundra. Her mother is Shelley Hancock, the first female Speaker in the NSW Parliament.
- Wendy Tuckerman: After spending 14-years with the Australian Federal Police Wendy and her husband settled on a farm near Boorowa where she was elected to Boorowa Council and served as Deputy Mayor from 2005-2007 and as Mayor from 2007-2016.
More to come