For the first time in NSW Nationals’ history, five women will be up for pre-selection to become the party’s candidate in the upcoming byelection for the seat of Cootamundra.
But the timing could not be worse for former Hilltops Administrator Wendy Tuckerman, who is running for both Nationals’ preselection and for Hilltops Council in the same time frame.
However Mrs Tuckerman says that when the opportunity arose, she had to put her name in the mix.
“Obviously the timing probably couldn’t be worse really,” she said.
“I wasn’t aware that I had been given the all clear for pre-selection until after the nominations of the local government closed. The legislation allows me to do that.
“That was challenging but at the end of the day, there is no guarantees that I’m going to get pre-selected anyway, there is a good field of candidates and we’ll just see what happen.”
After more than a decade on Boorowa Council, including nine years as Mayor, Mrs Tuckerman says pre-selection is an opportunity to take the next step in her political career.
“I think it’s just an opportunity to represent the community at a different level and in a different way so obviously I’m really pleased to be given that opportunity and try and see how we go,” she said.
“It’s something that people have spoken to me about before and I think it’s just about opportunity, these things don’t have very often. Just take the opportunities when you get them.
“I’m very passionate about people and engaging with people and finding ways and means to get great outcomes for communities and I'm very passionate about regional NSW and representing the people of the regions to make sure they have a strong voice.”
Mrs Tuckerman will be running against Young businesswoman Steph Cooke, Head of Campus at the Charles Sturt University at Wagga Wagga, Miriam Dayhew; Cowra Councillor Ruth Fagan and veterinarian from Cootamundra, Rachel Smith.
She said it was great to see five women run for pre-selection.
“I think it’s fantastic, absolutely fantastic. I think the candidates that have put their names forward are exceptional and they are obviously leaders in whatever field they’ve undertaken so it’s a fantastic field,” she said.
“I’m sure whoever does get pre-selected will continue to do some really good work for our region and for regional NSW, especially continuing on from the great work the Nationals are doing.”
Regardless of who wins pre-selection, the NSW Nationals will face a challenge from the other parties in the running for the seat after a year of political scandals, including the council mergers and greyhound ban.
Mrs Tuckerman says that the NSW Nationals candidate will have a fight on their hands.
“Obviously with the Shooters and Fishers winning the seat of Orange, there are some concerns out there for the Nationals and they have to make sure they have a strong candidate who can take it up to any party that can contest the electorate,” she said.
“Obviously the electorate has been and is won very easily by Katrina but you know, I don’t think anyone can rest on their laurels, they’ve got to work hard and they’ve got to convince the community that they are the right person for the job and the right party to get what’s needed in regional NSW and especially in the electorate of Cootamundra.”
The byelection has come as a result of the retirement of Katrina Hodgkinson, with a date set to be announced by the state government soon.