By Jeremy Sollars
Goondiwindi councillor Rob Mackenzie will not rule out seeking endorsement as the One Nation candidate for Southern Downs after quitting the LNP last week.
Cr Mackenzie is understood to have been privately fuming since being turned down by the LNP state executive as a potential candidate to replace Lawrence Springborg who will retire from state politics at the next election.
In the first week of March local LNP members voted overwhelmingly in favour of former RAAF Squadron Leader James Lister to be the party’s next local candidate, comprehensively beating rivals Deputy Mayor Jo McNally and Cr Cameron Gow.
Cr Mackenzie was a financial member of the Nationals and the LNP for about 25 years and was chairman of the local electorate council.
He is believed to have been denied the chance to contest the LNP pre-selection by the party’s central powerbrokers on the basis of a years-old drink driving conviction, speeding fines and what he claims were non-offensive Facebook posts by others.
He told the Free Times that he would “not be ruling anything out”, including seeking the One Nation endorsement for Southern Downs or running as an independent at the next state election, which is due next January, but expected to be called earlier by the ALP government.
“I hung in until (last) week to do the right thing by Lawrence until we had seen the pre-selection process through,” Cr Mackenzie said.
“I do not believe the party members were given a sufficient opportunity to choose from a wide enough range of potential candidates.
“I believe the field was narrowed down deliberately and that’s a sad indictment on the process.
“A lot of people in this electorate are telling me they will not vote for the LNP – they will vote for One Nation or an independent or Labor.
“I am listening to what people are saying to me and I am not ruling anything out.
Cr Mackenzie said that while James Lister was “a nice guy” it was questionable how much support he would attract at the next election due to not being a long-term local in the region.
Mr Lister is understood to have gained 180 votes in the local LNP ballot, with Cr McNally finishing with 12, Cr Gow with 35 and 43 voting for none of the three hopefuls.
The One Nation endorsement for Southern Downs is being contested by Stanthorpe businessman Mark McNichol – the husband of Southern Downs councillor Marika McNichol – and at least two other potential candidates who have so far declined to be identified.