Stuart George
Stuart George

Candidate still to run

STUART George's fate as a potential Nationals candidate for Clarence rests in the hands of the local members of the party.

On Saturday the Daily Examiner exclusively revealed Mr George's company, Capital Car Sales was in liquidation owing nine creditors more than $250,000.

After the fallout of the news, yesterday a National party spokesperson said Mr George was still in the running for this Sunday's preselection candidate vote.

The spokesperson said according to constitutional requirements local members would vote for the party's candidate.

"Stuart George has met all of the constitutional requirements to stand for preselection in Clarence," the spokesperson said.

"Beyond those constitutional requirements all other issues relating to the suitability of any candidate will be assessed by the local branch members at the pre-selection."

The spokesperson would not comment on whether the party was aware of Mr George's financial position before the Daily Examiner broke the news Saturday.

Last Friday Mr George told the Daily Examiner the party was aware that his company was in liquidation.

National Party Grafton branch chairman Peter James declined to comment on if Mr George's financial situation would affect his chances for pre-selection.

In the running against Mr George are Clarence Valley council Mayor Richie Williamson, former Maclean Shire Mayor Chris Gulaptis, Clarence Valley councillor Karen Toms, Grafton based solicitor Paul O'Connor, Alumy Creek farmer Fiona Leviny, and Maclean restaurant owner Jason Cleary.

Party members will vote on which candidate wins preselection at a meeting at Grafton public school at 10.30am.

The preselection vote will be a closed meeting, with party members who have been a member of the Nationals for more than six months eligible to vote.

Meanwhile NSW Labor leader John Robertson has called for a community vote on pre-selection.

He said the Nationals should give the Clarence community the chance to participate in a community primary pre-selection ahead of the upcoming by-election.

"Andrew Stoner personally endorsed community preselections over the weekend at the Nationals Conference and the people of the Clarence deserve the chance to vote in one," he said.

"In every other electorate, party members will have the right to choose a community preselection, but the National Party is refusing to extend the same option to members in the Clarence."

"With seven candidates in the running, the Nationals can hardly argue that there would be no local interest in the preselection battle.

Mr Robertson said the situation for his party was different, with Peter Ellem being unanimously endorsed by local Labor members as the candidate for Country Labor.

"All Labor Party Branch members and the community were united behind Peter, so it made perfect sense to confirm him as the candidate straight away," said Mr Robertson.

"The Nationals are a completely different story, with division rife and seven candidates vying for the top spot.

"The community should have their say."