A one-time adviser to the Victorian premier is switching to federal politics after winning Liberal Party preselection for the federal seat of Murray.
Duncan McGauchie, a former adviser to Premier Ted Baillieu, won preselection for the rural seat on Saturday, ahead of four other candidates.
“Today was a very big day obviously, and it’s a real honour and privilege to be a candidate in the community where I grew up and where most of my family live,” Mr McGauchie told AAP.
The contest was triggered by Sharman Stone’s decision to retire after 20 years in federal politics.
Dr Stone has held the regional seat since 1996, but before the Liberal MP won it, the seat was held by National and Country Party members.
Her retirement has set the stage for a two-cornered contest with the Nationals.
Mr McGauchie says he’s ready to go head-to-head with a National candidate.
“The National Party has had a presence in this community for some time, and that obviously means it will be a very big challenge,” he said.
Former Fremantle AFL coach Damian Drum has indicated he will seek National preselection in Murray.
Mr Drum coached Fremantle from 1999 to 2001, entered Victorian parliament in 2002, and served almost two years as minister for sport and veterans affairs.
Mr McGauchie says Dr Stone and the Liberal Party’s record in the area has put a lot of important issues on the national agenda, such as the Murray-Darling Basin and the agriculture industry.
“We’re in a very strong position to continue that work, and I think it’s going to take a Liberal member of the Turnbull government to deliver the big things that we need in this community,” he said.
Dr Stone is retiring as the shortest-serving MP to represent her seat despite holding it for 20 years.
Murray was first contested in 1949, when Country Party MP John McEwen – who later became Australia’s 18th prime minister – won and held it until 1971.
Bruce Lloyd held it for the Country Party, continuing when it changed its name to the National Party, from 1971 to 1996.