NSW Liberals are inching closer to finalising a candidate in a prized coastal seat under threat from the teals, following a dramatic stand-off between local members and officials intent on preselecting a female.
As Premier Dominic Perrottet and senior Liberal Party figures urge members to preselect more women for the NSW parliamentary party, officials overnight were on track to endorse lawyer Rory Amon as the candidate for the seat of Pittwater.
Mr Amon’s likely endorsement for the Northern Beaches electorate, held by retiring Infrastructure Minister Rob Stokes, comes more than two weeks after local members unanimously preselected the local councillor and urged the state executive to immediately endorse him.
But the rubber-stamping of the preselection by the party’s executive has been held up as senior MPs and factional powerbrokers deliberated on whether another candidate – probably a female – would be more successful defending the seat against a teal threat.
The Liberals hold Pittwater on a margin of more than 22 per cent. But the seat is considered to be under threat given it overlays much of the federal seat of Mackellar, which independent Sophie Scamps wrested from Liberal Jason Falinski in the May federal election.
Teal independent Jacqui Scruby has already flagged an intention to campaign on some of the same issues that dominated the federal election, including environment and energy. A cancelled gas project off the coast of Newcastle known as PEP-11 is also expected to emerge as an issue, with the rejection of the permit set for an appeal hearing in the Federal Court just 10 days before the March election.