Three-way contest for Eden-Monaro as Nationals step up
The Nationals have this morning opened nominations for the federal seat of Eden-Monaro in a shock move that now pits the party against the Liberals in a three-cornered contest.
Despite Nationals leader Michael McCormack saying the party would run a candidate, there had been talk recently that the party would not.
It is understood Mr McCormack told a party room meeting this week he would leave it up to the branches.
"I will support what the party members decide to do and I have never wavered from this," he said.
The decision to open nominations was driven by the local members, who sought permission from the NSW Nationals executive on Thursday night.
The by-lection is to be held on July 4 following the resignation of Labor's Mike Kelly due to health reasons.
The preselection news follows weeks of uncertainty around the seat after NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro and NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance were tipped as frontrunners.
Mr Barilaro, a National, ended up withdrawing after claiming he wanted to focus on helping NSW recover from a horror summer of bushfires as well as the COVID-19 economic crisis.
Mr Constance, a Liberal, said he didn't want to run against Mr Barilaro but withdrew entirely from consideration after being the focus of an expletive-laden text message from the NSW Deputy Premier.
Mr Barilaro refused to comment four times earlier this month on whether he disparagingly called Mr Constance an unpublishable expletive starting with C.
National Party elder John Anderson slammed both men for their bickering over Eden Monaro, saying he was "profoundly disappointed" by their behaviour over the upcoming by-election.
Originally published as Eden Monaro to be a three-way contest as Nats step up