Libs focus on picking federal poll candidates
Speculation has been growing that Canberra Liberals' leader Zed Seselja, right, would take a tilt at Gai Brodtmann's seat or look to roll Senator Gary Humphries, left, for the veteran's seat in the upper house. Photo: Colleen Petch
Canberra's aspiring Liberals candidates for this year's federal election have already begun counting numbers as the local party begins its pre-selection process for the poll.
Nominations opened on Monday for the capital's two House of Representative seats, Canberra and Fraser, which are held by Labor, and for a two-person Senate ticket.
Nominations close on February 4, with the preselection vote to be held on February 23 at the local Liberals' tradition meeting place, Kingston's East Lake Football Club.
There have already been nominations to contest the seat of Canberra, which covers Canberra south of Lake Burley Griffin and is held by Labor's Gai Brodtmann with a margin of 9.2 per cent.
But the Liberals were encouraged by their improved showing in the south in October's territory election, with the party achieving an 11 per cent swing in the electorate.
Speculation has been growing that Canberra Liberals' leader Zed Seselja would take a tilt at Ms Brodtmann's seat or look to roll his party's incumbent, Senator Gary Humphries, for the veteran's seat in the upper house, which the Liberals are more likely to win when the nation goes to the polls this year.
Mr Seselja's office was doing nothing to hose down the speculation on Monday, with the leaders declining requests for comment.
But Commonwealth government accounting specialist Greg Dennis confirmed on Monday he would seek Liberal preselection for Canberra. Other names linked with the seat were defeated ACT election candidates James Milligan and Tom Sefton, and the president of the party's Canberra central electorate branch, Anne Ryan.
Mr Dennis told Fairfax Media he believed the seat would be tough, but potentially winnable.
''I think with the right candidate, the seat is a possibility,'' he said.
''I'm not naive enough to think you'd just go in there with all guns blazing and win the seat outright.''
The aspiring candidate, who works at the Australian Trade Commission, said he hoped to draw on his background as a fifth-generation Canberran in his efforts to get elected.
''What we need in Canberra is somebody who has grown up with the city and who knows the people and who works hard for the people,'' Mr Dennis said.
''This is our city and our town and I'm part of five generations here.''
Mr Milligan declined to be interviewed and neither Mr Sefton nor Ms Ryan could be contacted.
The acting president of the local party, John Cziesla, reminded his party colleagues to ensure their membership details were up to date by the cut-off point of February 4.
''All members who have not renewed their memberships or attended an eligible branch meeting are encouraged to do so you can vote in the preselection,'' Mr Cziesla wrote to his members.
Correction: This article initially said the southern ACT seat is Fraser. It is Canberra.