Throsby MP Stephen Jones.Months of rumours about Throsby MP Stephen Jones’s future in the seat will come to a head today as Labor officials call a long-awaited preselection ballot.
The traditionally safe Labor seat remains one of just two in NSW without an endorsed Labor candidate for the September 14 election.
Former Labor MP Craig Thomson’s seat of Dobell is the only other seat for which the party is yet to preselect a candidate.
When nominations for the ballot open today, Mr Jones will face a challenge from Wollongong nurse John Rumble, in what is shaping up to be a battle between the party’s left and right factions.
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Former state MP Matt Brown was touted as a possible third candidate after saying locals “missed him”.
It is understood he has now decided against the idea.
Mr Jones, who is from Labor’s left and was parachuted into the Throsby seat in 2007, has been calling for a rank-and-file ballot to occur since late last year.
He said yesterday he was angry it had taken this long to allow branch members to decide who would represent them in September.
“I think it’s an absolute joke that it has taken so long for the party officers to sort this out and call it, and I think they have held the branches and members in contempt by dragging it out for so long,” he said.
Mr Jones said he had no doubt party members would support him in the ballot.
“I’m absolutely confident of my position and that I will be the candidate for Labor in the 2013 election,” he said.
“I know the people in my branches, I’ve spoken to them all and I’ve known most of them for years, and the overwhelming majority of them are supporting me.”
Likewise, Mr Rumble was confident of being supported by a majority of branch members.
“I have gathered support from branch members and I am quietly confident of winning,” he said.
“Running against a sitting member is always going to be difficult but I think I am in with a very good chance.”
Mr Rumble, who is the son of former Illawarra (now the state seat of Shellharbour) MP Terry Rumble, narrowly missed win- ning preselection in Shellharbour in 2011. Despite reports that Wollongong’s state MP Noreen Hay was involved in a right faction push to install Mr Rumble as the Throsby member, she yesterday denied any involvement in federal affairs.
“I have been overseas and have no inside knowledge,” she said.
“I haven’t spoken to anybody on this issue.
“I work well with all my colleagues and that includes Stephen Jones and basically the NSW branch of the Labor Party and the administrative panel will make their determination and I would encourage them to do so ASAP.”
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