Democracy in action: Lismore Community Preselection
After long-serving member Thomas George announced his retirement earlier this year, the Lismore State Electorate Council decided to adopt the Community Preselection method and entrust the selection of their candidate for the 2019 state election to locals.
The process has been a huge success, with 3,657 voters from across the Northern Rivers and Tablelands turning out to elect Austin Curtin, a grassroots candidate with no prior foray into politics.
NSW Nationals State Director Nathan Quigley noted that while some were sceptical of the process, the outcome proved the method was appreciated and respected amongst the community.
“Any other parties who aren’t seriously considering this model are kidding themselves and their voters,” he said.
The process saw a high participation rate at booths in Nationals’ stronger territory with the turnout at Bonalbo nearly 50 percent of total votes cast at the last state election.
Austin Curtin, a newcomer to the political scene, was little known before the preselection battle. Now he has a high profile in the community leaving other parties struck with the dilemma of finding a suitable contender.
Peter Petty, farmer and Mayor of Tenterfield, finished in second place on the day with 1,099 primary votes and Andrew Gordon, Lismore real estate agent, close behind with 943. Both candidates worked extremely hard during the campaign and we congratulate them on a race well run.
Candidates, volunteers and family members celebrated the win on Saturday night with Austin thanking Peter and Andrew for their sportsmanship and willingness to be involved in the democratic process and acknowledging Thomas George's lifetime of service to the local community.
Austin said he was humbled to be elected and is ready to get to work.
"This is just the start," Austin said.
"I will be working hard over the next fourteen months to connect with all of our supporters and voters across the electorate."
The Curtin family have lived in Lismore since the early 1980s, and Austin and his wife Bronwyn are now raising a family of their own in the electorate. A qualified carpenter, as well as holding degrees in economics and communications, Austin is now farming macadamia nuts at Tregeagle, just south of Lismore.