InDaily reported last month that the party had selected a presumptive candidate for Newland, but was keeping their identity under wraps until his eligibility requirements could be confirmed by his public sector employer, understood to be the State Emergency Services.
However, sources today told InDaily the man has now reconsidered his nomination, leaving the party without a candidate in a must-win seat just nine months from polling day.
The north-eastern suburbs seat is held by Liberal Richard Harvey by a nominal margin of just 0.2 per cent, and could host a three-cornered contest with independent Frances Bedford considering shifting there after much of her neighbouring Florey electorate was shifted in last year’s boundary redraw.
Labor state secretary Reggie Martin confirmed the party was now without a candidate.
“The process did not ultimately conclude with a candidate, due to the withdrawal of the nominee,” he said, confirming “concerns around his ongoing employment”.
“We thought we had a good candidate,” he said.
Party leader Peter Malinauskas told InDaily: “We had a strong candidate, it’s just unfortunate circumstances surrounding their employment didn’t allow them to proceed.”
“But we are determined to find the best possible candidate for Newland,” he added.
It’s unclear whether that will now open the door for Tea Tree Gully deputy mayor Lucas Jones – who has been acting mayor during the council’s recent and ongoing stoush with embattled mayor Kevin Knight, and had been widely expected to nominate for Newland.
He’s strongly backed by his former boss and ex-Newland MP Tom Kenyon, who expressed disappointment that Jones did not nominate last month.
That was likely after being told his faction had chosen another candidate, with one source saying at the time: “Lucas has been around long enough to sniff the breeze and know whether he’d get the support.”
Jones did not comment on developments today.
Labor is set to open preselection processes for a range of other seats on Monday, but it’s understood Newland will likely not be among them.
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