Queanbeyan-Palerang councillor and 2019 Labor candidate for Monaro Bryce Wilson will have another tilt at the seat in the upcoming state byelection to replace the long-serving Nationals MP John Barilaro.
Mr Wilson, who is nominating for Labor preselection, says he wants to give voters a chance to express their views on the Perrottet government and its handling of COVID.
"People are definitely concerned around the current state of the pandemic," he said.
"Labor both federally and at the state level have been calling for free rapid antigen testing. We have seen some movement on that, but not enough."
Mr Wilson criticised what he described as the NSW government's undelivered promises to the southern NSW electorate, saying the Coalition had failed to address housing affordability issues in Cooma and a school shortage in communities such as Googong.
He says underemployment and cost of living pressures will be among the issues determining the result of the as-yet unscheduled byelection.
Monaro communities needed a strong advocate to represent them after the devastation of the 2019-20 bushfire season and COVID-19, Mr Wilson says.
"They need a local champion, taking forward those individual specific issues."
He said the federal Labor MP for Eden-Monaro, Kristy McBain, had led the way in championing the region and created a model to follow.
Mr Wilson lost the last race for Monaro in the 2019 state election as a 9.1 per cent swing to John Barilaro delivered him another term in the seat. The deputy premier's resignation late last year brought on the upcoming byelection.
The Nationals have held the seat since 2011, when Mr Barilaro won it in the Coalition's landslide election victory over Labor. While it has existed since 1856, Monaro, in its latest incarnation, since 1927, has swung between Labor and conservative parties. Labor's Steve Whan held it for eight years until 2011. Other high-profile members include the Nationals' Peter Cochrane (1988-99) and Peter Webb (1999-2003).
It remains unclear what influence the lack of an incumbent, and the uncertainties surrounding the next stage of the pandemic, will have in this year's byelection. Mr Wilson says victory in the seat, which has an almost 12 per cent margin, will be a tough ask but that the absence of Mr Barilaro had somewhat reset the field.
Mr Wilson, a former school teacher and federal public servant, was elected a Labor councillor for the Queanbeyan-Palerang council in 2021, and is also a senior electorate officer for federal Labor member for the ACT seat of Bean, David Smith.
He lives with his wife and daughter in Jerrabomberra, was president of his local P&C and is a member of the local residents association.
NSW Labor leader Chris Minns said Monaro residents would have an opportunity to send a strong message to NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet.
"Bryce has a diverse and strong background in policy and advocacy, with a genuine connection to the local community," he said.
"He also knows too well the critical role of education and training in assisting our young people reach their full potential.
"And he understands the barriers to economic opportunity confronting our young people."
Nominations for Labor preselection will open on Friday January 7 and close on Friday January 14.
Running to replace Mr Barilaro for the Nationals is Queanbeyan author and historian Nichole Overall, who was selected uncontested as the party's candidate.
Mr Wilson said he intended to remain a Queanbeyan-Palerang councillor at least initially if he won the Monaro byelection.
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