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Republic campaign boss sets sights on Bragg


The national boss of the Australian Republican Movement will seek to replace Liberal royalty in the party’s safest Adelaide seat, with hopefuls given just two days to nominate for preselection to replace Vickie Chapman in Bragg.

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Sandy Biar, a former Australian Democrats candidate turned longtime Liberal staffer, has led the Republican movement as national director and CEO since 2019 after leaving SA for the NSW Blue Mountains.

However, he returned to Adelaide after the March state election and has confirmed he will seek to contest the Bragg by-election for the Liberal Party.

“I am putting my name forward for preselection,” Biar confirmed to InDaily today.

“An opportunity like this doesn’t come up very often, and I think we need a local voice in the mix, someone who’s got that experience working on successful campaigns.”

The state election rout left Bragg on a moderately-safe 8.2 per cent – the party’s only safe seat in metropolitan Adelaide – before former deputy premier Chapman announced her retirement from parliament.

Outgoing Liberal state director Sascha Meldrum confirmed nominations for the seat were opened yesterday – and will close tomorrow – ahead of a later ballot.

The party is expecting an influx of hopefuls for the seat, with Jack Batty – a former staffer to Christopher Pyne and recent adviser to Australia’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, George Brandis – already pressing his claims after throwing his name in the mix weeks ago.

It is expected to be a hard-fought battle ahead of a preselection ballot, with the domain name battyforbragg already up and running with a site said to be “launching soon”.

Others touted for potential nomination today ruled themselves out of contention, including Burnside councillors Julian Carbone and Henry Davis, the latter saying he believed the preselection should go to a woman candidate.

He backed former Badcoe candidate and Unley councillor Jordan Dodd, however, she too ruled herself out of contention this morning.

Rachel Swift, who late yesterday conceded defeat in the federal seat of Boothby, has been long linked to Bragg and said last night she looked forward to “returning with vigour to a role in serving the community which has shaped every aspect of my career”.

She did not respond to inquiries today.

Former Elder MP Carolyn Power has also been linked to a potential return to parliament in Bragg, while former Waite preselection hopefuls Cara Miller and Melissa Jones are also believed to be considering their nomination.

Biar – who ran for the Australian Democrats in Adelaide at the 2007 federal election but worked for the Liberals after the party collapsed, advising frontbencher Stephen Wade – acknowledged “a strong mood within the party for female candidates in a range of different positions in the party”.

“I’m sure we’ll see some really strong female candidates – it’s up to preselectors to choose which candidate they think is the best fit all round to represent them,” he said.

“It’s up to local preselectors and I think it’s really important to have a local candidate in the mix.”

The veteran of various state and federal campaigns said it was “going to be a tough campaign for the by-election itself”, after strong swings to the Greens – who will run a concerted campaign in the seat – at the federal poll in Sturt, with which the seat shares common ground.

“We can’t take the seat for granted,” he said.

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