BALLARAT mayor Mark Harris has not ruled out challenging Ballarat MP Catherine King at the next federal election.
Cr Harris yesterday said he had not been approached by Liberal Party leaders but declined to rule out seeking preselection for the safe Labor seat.“I understand it is one of the seats which will come up soon, but I hadn’t given it a lot of thought,” he said.
“I have never been a member of a political party, so I think for me, the question starts and stops there.”
Last month, the Victorian Liberal Party opened nominations in five key marginal seats, and a spokesperson said nominations for Ballarat would open in coming weeks.
Preselection in the marginal seat of Corangamite has erupted into an alleged dirty-tricks campaign, with former journalist Sarah Henderson and Howard government adviser Rod Nockles seeking the seat.
While the next federal election is not due until November 2013, Ms King has committed to recontesting the seat which is considered safe for the Labor Party with a margin of 11.8 per cent. Other potential candidates for Liberal preselection have ruled themselves out of the contest in recent days.
Ballarat Health Services board chairperson and lawyer Andrew Faull said he was not entertaining the prospect of running, while 2010 Liberal candidate Mark Banwell, now a staffer for DLP Senator John Madigan, said he had no plans to recontest the preselection.
City of Ballarat councillor Ben Taylor ruled himself out yesterday, and Ballarat Residents and Ratepayers Association president Elisa Backer said rumours she would contest the preselection were inaccurate. Dr Backer, a senior lecturer at the University of Ballarat, said she was committed to her academic career and family life.