Labor will have strong candidate, says senator
The Labor Party will have a strong candidate in the Gosford by-election, according to Senator Deborah O'Neill who is a member of the party's State Executive Committee.
Former Member for Robertson, Senator Deborah O'Neill is Junior Vice President of the NSW Labor executive team.
She said she did not believe the community cared about the internal workings of the Labor Party.
"What is going to matter is we have a candidate ready to defend the Coast against the State Government," Senator O'Neill said.
In paying respects to the outgoing sitting Member for Gosford, Ms Kathy Smith, Senator O'Neill said: "The Labor Party put up a great candidate who won the election and worked hard for the community."
The Senator said she acknowledged that "rank and file preselection means a lot to local members of the party".
The preselection of Ms Smith for the 2015 NSW election was broadly criticised by local ALP members as a process dictated by the party's NSW head office and not determined by the rank and file.
There are seven ALP branches in the Gosford electorate, three of which are located on the Peninsula (Umina-Ettalong, Woy Woy and the Peninsula Day Branch).
Some members remain concerned the NSW head office will still dictate who the party preselects as its candidate in the impending by-election.
A rank-and-file preselection would involve candidates being nominated.
Those candidates do not have to live in the Gosford electorate but they need to be a financial and qualified party member.
Only members within the electorate's branches can vote.
All members are entitled to a vote and the candidate with the most votes is endorsed by the party.
A compromise may be to give the party's NSW electoral committee and the State Administrative Committee an equal say in the selection of the candidate.
"This will take its course," Senator O'Neill said.
She said she believed the community was more concerned about voting for an MP who would deliver on their promises.
"One thing is very clear, when the Liberals win government, the Central Coast loses and when the sitting member is also Liberal the Central Coast loses twice," she said.
She said the closure of Woy Woy RMS and the withdrawal of the NSW Government from the replacement of the Rawson Road rail crossing were two recent examples of those "losses".
"The underpass was promised by a Liberal member and a Liberal Government abandoned it," she said.
"With Labor, the commitments we make we deliver," she said.
Ms Anne Charlton, a Wamberal resident and former employee of Senator O'Neill, who stood for Labor in the Robertson electorate in the 2016 in the Federal election, has expressed her interest in preselection.
Interview, 15 Feb 2017
Deborah O'Neill, Federal Senator for NSW
Reporter: Jackie Pearson