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Williams reveals Upper House ambition

Member for Murray-Darling John Williams will contest a National Party pre-selection process in coming weeks in effort to represent western NSW in the Upper House.

ZOE MCMAUGH March 28, 2014 4:13am

Member for Murray-Darling John Williams has confirmed he will not re-stand as a local member at the next state election — not in the newly formed Barwon or Murray electorates.

He will instead contest a National Party pre-selection process in coming weeks in effort to represent western NSW in the Upper House.

His decision follows electorate boundary changes that will come into effect after the 2015 election.

‘‘I elected not to contest sitting members who are both ministers and have much more to offer the electorates,’’ Mr Williams said.

‘‘I have instead elected to run in pre-selection for the Upper House to be held in early April.’’

Murray-Darling and Murrumbidgee electorates are being abolished, with a new electorate of Murray being formed and the rest of Murray-Darling transferred into the Barwon electorate.

Mr Williams’ decision makes way for Member for Murrumbidgee Adrian Piccoli and Member for Barwon Kevin Humphries, both National Party representatives and front bench ministers in the O’Farrell Government, to contest the new seats of Murray and Barwon respectively.

‘‘I see my role in the Upper House as assisting those two ministers with their electorates,’’ said Mr Williams, who resides in Broken Hill which is now a part of Barwon.

‘‘Being mindful that they are ministers and that role does take them away from the electorate, I would also be available to represent them if they are not available.

‘‘I would cover the area I have been representing and further north.

‘‘From the Upper House I can still keep an eye on issues affecting Murray-Darling, including the Murray-Darling Basin Plan and ensuring that agreement is honoured.

‘‘People will still see me around Deniliquin if Adrian needs me.’’

Mr Williams will be up against eight National Party pre-selection candidates, each vying for the three ‘‘winnable’’ positions in the NSW Legislative Council.

Mr Williams said if unsuccessful in his attempt to be pre-selected he would be ‘‘out of a job’’.

‘‘It’s either the Upper House or nothing,’’ he said.

The new electorate of Murray takes in parts of Murray-Darling and Murrumbidgee, including Mr Piccoli’s home town of Griffith.

Mr Piccoli, the NSW Minister for Education, confirmed with the Pastoral Times he had nominated for pre-selection for Murray.

‘‘I live in the new seat of Murray and it does pick up some of the towns that were in my former electorate of Murrumbidgee, including Deniliquin,’’ Mr Piccoli said.

‘‘I am familiar with the area. I’d like to think my chances (of being selected) are pretty good, but we are a democratic party and anyone can nominate.

‘‘I never take it for granted and I have to work hard – no one gets a free ride in The Nationals.’’

The Murray electorate incorporates Wentworth, Balranald, Carrathool, Hay, Griffith, Leeton, Murrumbidgee, Conargo, Wakool, Berrigan, Murray and Deniliquin council areas.

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