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Vote for people power

by
November 25, 2017

IN TO WIN: Nationals Peter Walsh, Neil Pankhurst and Steph Ryan are letting Shepparton pick their next candidate.

Euroa MP Steph Ryan was enthusiastic about potential wildcard entrants to the political scene at next year’s Victorian election.

The Victorian National Party will use the seat of Shepparton as a bit of an experiment in democracy with a community preselection.

Traditionally, the selection of a candidate would be up to local branch members.

Candidates could be known among the National Party hierarchy, but their popularity with the local community could be untested before an election.

The Nationals announced the community preselection process dates earlier this week at a public launch aimed at getting the community involved.

‘‘We are the only party in Australia to have this process and one of the only parties in Australia that can run this process because we have full faith in the community,’’ Ms Ryan said.

‘‘There will be no votes at all from the administrative committee, it is entirely determined by voters in the Shepparton electorate.’’

Shepparton is the only electorate in which the Nationals are trying this process, possibly because it is one of the most unique.

The seat was traditionally a safe seat for the party and when long-standing member Jeanette Powell stood down in 2014, it was expected to stay with her former staffer Greg Barr.

But local lawyer Suzanna Sheed ran as an independent candidate and beat the Nationals on their own turf.

State leader Peter Walsh denied the community preselection was about taking on Ms Sheed, who has yet to declare if she will run again in 2018.

‘‘I would like to think that this process would bring some new people to politics that have not thought about it before,’’ Mr Walsh said.

Anyone trying to win Nationals preselection will still have to be a member of the party, but they can join from now and still be eligible.

Giving Labor, Liberal or Greens voters a say in who the Nationals run was something Ms Ryan was ready to embrace, even if it did produce unconventional candidates.

‘‘They are equally as much members of the community as anyone else at the end of the day the person that get selected for Shepparton needs to represent everybody in the community,’’ Ms Ryan said.

The Shepparton National Party community preselection will be on April 14, 2018.

To nominate, go to www.sheppartonvotes.com

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