Several sources have told InDaily there is strong support in the local branch for Dan Cregan, a local lawyer considered a rising star of the party’s right wing, to replace him as the Liberal candidate for the 2018 election.
Neither Cregan nor Goldsworthy returned several calls made by InDaily today.
But insiders say Cregan has “done a lot of work” in the seat and, as the membership officer for the branch, has enlisted hundreds of new or returning party enrolments which would stand him in good stead in the event of a preselection battle.
One Liberal source noted that he had formerly worked at leading Sydney-based law firm Allens Arthur Robinson, but had returned to join the Mount Barker office of von Doussas.
“This guy gave up a future partnership with Allens to come back and live in Mt Barker – I don’t think he did that because he wants to be a suburban lawyer,” the source noted, adding: “If he does stand he’ll be a very good candidate.”
Another insider said there was “no doubt he’s been working hard in Kavel”, noting: “I’d be surprised if he wasn’t interested in a parliamentary career.”
Goldsworthy is among a glut of MPs yet to signal their future intentions, as parliament holds its collective breath for the final report of the Electoral Districts Boundaries Commission, which is due no later than the end of next month.
But a prospective handover could be complicated by the fact the commission’s draft report proposed shifting Mt Barker – where Cregan is based and heavily supported – into Isobel Redmond’s neighbouring seat of Heysen.
“There’s a whole lot of uncertainty about the redistribution,” said one MP.
Redmond and Goldsworthy submitted a joint petition to the review, arguing that Mt Barker should remain “the main population centre for Kavel”, arguing the proposed change was “unnecessarily disruptive and serves no purpose”.
Cregan is a past winner of the Charles Allan Seymour Hawker Memorial Scholarship, whose website says he has worked as a Judges’ Associate to the Chief Justice of SA and studied Law at Cambridge.
“His lifetime goal is to serve as a Parliamentarian and Cabinet Minister,” the site says.
Sources have suggested to InDaily that he may be unwilling to challenge Goldsworthy for preselection outright, but that someone else inevitably would – leaving him free to join the fray.
According to various sources, he would “overwhelmingly have the numbers” to win preselection in Kavel, which suggests that one way or another, Goldsworthy’s time could be up.
The mooted elevation has sparked disquiet in the party’s moderate faction, as it would bolster the ranks of young right-wingers putting their hands up for frontbench consideration, with Cregan closely associated with the likes of Sam Duluk and Stephan Knoll, both of whom were contemporaries while he was president of the Young Liberals.
But there is a broader disquiet about the prospect of the seat being lost altogether without a strong candidate, with Kavel and Heysen both vulnerable to the likely state election insurgence of the Nick Xenophon Team.
The seats cover the same terrain as the federal Mayo electorate, from which Jamie Briggs was ousted in July by NXT’s Rebekha Sharkie.
Goldsworthy has held Kavel since 2002, following the retirement of former Premier John Olsen.
The last media release attributed to him on the state Liberals’ website is dated July 2012.
The seat had been previously held by his father, one-time Deputy Premier Roger Goldsworthy.
Liberal state director Sascha Meldrum told InDaily the party was yet to formalise a preselection timetable, and would not be doing so until after the Boundaries Commission report.
She said the candidacy of either Goldsworthy or Cregan was “an individual choice for both of them”.
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