THE Nationals will have newly endorsed candidates for the seats of New England and Northern Tablelands within a month.
Nominations for pre-selection for New England will open tomorrow and close on Tuesday, April 21. A meeting to select a candidate will be held in Tamworth on Saturday, April 13.
Determining the party’s candidate to contest the seat of Northern Tablelands will take place a week later.
The party’s central executive met last night to thrash out the pre-selection calendar.
Nominations for Northern Tablelands will open tomorrow and close on Friday, April 5.
The ballot to endorse a candidate will be held in Armidale on Saturday, April 20.
“We’re shocked and disappointed,” the chairman of The Nationals New England Federal Electorate Council, Greg Kachel, said yesterday following the withdrawal of Richard Torbay.
He said he had attempted to contact Mr Torbay who is yet to return his call.
“Richard was a high calibre candidate and was extremely popular in the electorate – that’s no secret, he was well received wherever he went,” he said.
“It’s an extreme disappointment to the members of New England who warmed to Richard.”
He described going through pre-selection again as “another process”.
“It’s a bit of a setback, however we’ve got six months before the election, we can regroup and come up with a candidate that can take it up to Tony Windsor,” Mr Kachel said.
“I’m confident we will have a good candidate who will fight the fight.”
Mr Kachel confirmed Barnaby Joyce had been in contact with him and indicated he would consider nominating.
He said Senator Joyce had a high profile in federal politics but regardless of who the new candidate was, they would hit the ground running.
Meanwhile senior Nationals’ officials are calling on the electorate council to get the pre-selection process rolling.
“I think they should act very quickly, we really need to get this sorted and back on the road again,” Tamworth nationals chairman Russell Webb said.
“The longer this goes on the worse it will get.”
Mr Webb, who says he is unaware of the allegations against Mr Torbay, said he was more than happy to give Senator Barnaby Joyce his full support.
“I said to Barnaby I was more than happy to give him my full support, but we can’t determine a way forward until we have a pre-selection and the proper process.
“It’s a bit of a shock that it’s come to this (another pre-selection). It was quite unexpected to me.”