Former NSW Farmers Association president John Cobb emerged victorious from the National Party preselection bout for the seat of Parkes.
The 51-year-old farmer defeated three contenders during a secret ballot of 149 delegates at Dubbo’s Wesley Centre on Saturday.
Just moments after being told he would carry the party’s hopes into the next federal election, Mr Cobb urged voters to stick with the Nationals vowing the good times were just around the corner.
“We are so close to, I think, at least five years of good stuff,” he said.
“We cannot afford a change of government at a time like this.
“We just cannot afford to have a change of government and we won’t have a change of who’s holding this seat I can assure you of that.”
The father of seven daughters, Mr Cobb – who lives with wife Gai on a property 100 kilometres west of Condobolin – said he would base his electorate office in Dubbo and “possibly” commute home on weekends.
Last month he stepped down from the farm lobby group, after almost three years at the helm, to take a second stab at federal politics. In 1992, he lost a preselection tussle with then-member Michael Cobb (no relation) who held the seat for 12 years.
Parkes MP Tony Lawler described Saturday’s outcome as a “relief” that took him one step closer to his own political exit. He will retire after just one term.
“I’ve got no doubt John’s got the credentials and the experience and the knowledge of the electorate,” Mr Lawler said soon after the vote.
“I would have been very anxious if we didn’t have such quality candidates. So certainly, this has made my decision a lot clearer.”
Despite its National Party pedigree Mr Cobb said he had no intention of taking the “seat for granted”.
“They can choose between a local who has held a number of important leadership positions and will hit the ground running to deliver for Parkes, or an ALP candidate who will be told what to do by his union masters in Sydney and Canberra,” he said.
“What I think we’ve got to do is make sure everybody knows what the National Party has done over the past few years – it’s done an awful lot for country people.”
Among the wins, he said, was the Roads to Recovery program, protection of regional airline access to Kingsford Smith Airport, and defeating tax moves restricting the transfer of businesses and properties between generations.
Country Labor candidate Joe Knagge, on the campaign trail for the past five months, congratulated his opponent but said the decision “came as no surprise”. Both candidates have promised a campaign free from personal attacks.
This article first appeared in Hangzhou Night Net.