A FORMER deputy prime minister, a councillor and a business chamber president have all thrown their hat into the ring for the Nationals senate pick - and they're all from Gunnedah.
John Anderson, Murray O'Keefe and Juliana McArthur have entered the race which is open to people from across the state.
Nominations for preselection closed on Friday, May 21, with six people putting their name forward to fill the spot which was essentially vacated by Fiona Nash in 2017 after she was found to be a dual British citizen.
The Gunnedah trio are joined by former chief executive officer of the Australian Livestock Exporters' Council Alison Penfold, former advisor to Ms Nash Tahlia Robertson and former NSW state director of the National Party of Australia Ross Cadell.
Ms Nash was herself set to run but has since reportedly ruled herself out of contention.
All three of Gunnedah's nominees have significant experience in senior positions, but Mr Anderson's CV is clearly the longest.
The farmer and grazier served as Member for Gwydir from 1989 through to his retirement in 2007, was Minister for Primary Industries and Energy from 1996 to 1998, Minister for Transport and Development from 1998 to 2005 and was leader of the National Party of Australia and deputy prime minister from 1999 to 2005.
He resigned from those last two posts due to a benign prostate cancer which he described at the time as "debilitating". After leaving politics in 2007, Mr Anderson took up the role of chairman at Eastern Star Gas.
Mr Anderson has stated that if he was to be selected for the senate position, he would not seek a cabinet position or the leadership.
Ms McArthur and Mr O'Keefe, however, are keen to begin their journey in politics and have not set a limitation upon themselves.
The former is currently the president of the Gunnedah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and is also a solicitor and director at McArthur Legal Services.
She is also an active member of the community, and is part of the local Rotary Club.
As a member of the Nationals, she said it would be an honour to represent them and believes she would be able to accomplish a lot in the role.
"It's not a decision I made lightly to enter preselection for the senate, but I'm passionate about regional Australia having migrated from Sydney to the bush about 20 years ago to marry a farmer," she said.
"I have 20 years experience in law and small business and I think that's an asset for the Nationals in the senate."
Gunnedah Shire councillor Murray O'Keefe was also keen to push his qualifications.
He acts as a mining superintendent at Whitehaven Coal, but said his role as a councillor is what makes him a good candidate.
"I've been a member of the Nationals party for years now and being part of Gunnedah Shire Council is confirming I enjoy seeing how the sausage is made," he said.
"And representing the community is something I have a strong passion for doing, and enjoy immensely, and personally I think I'm not too bad at it.
"And, I'm very keen to step up to the plate and seek to offer my services to benefit more of rural NSW."
Mr O'Keefe is aware of the other people putting their names forward, and said it was a great reflection of the leaders within the Gunnedah community.
He also believes the "depth and calibre" of fellow candidates shows how strong the NSW Nationals are.
Preselection is set to take place on June 18.
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