A COOMA lawyer and former president of the Law Society of NSW was preselected on Saturday as the Liberals candidate for Eden-Monaro for the next federal election.
Joanne van der Plaat convincingly secured the spot over financial services specialist and management consultant Vanessa Cheng.
Ms van der Plaat says while she’s expecting the forthcoming political contest to be challenging, she’s looking forward to doing all possible to bring the Coalition back to government.
“I’m feeling motivated, energised and excited for the job ahead,” she said after her win on Saturday.
“It’s a great honour to be preselected and I thank our party members. It’s not going to be easy but it would be a privilege to serve Eden-Monaro in Canberra.”
With the prospect of a Federal election as soon as August, 2024, the preselection has come in the wake of criticism of the Liberal Party for not having candidates in the field early enough in 2022, and on the back of a looming electorate redistribution.
Former Liberals candidate for Eden-Monaro, Jerry Knockles, was only given the final nod weeks out from polling day in 2022, the general view of the membership is that this significantly impacted his result.
The Federal redistribution will see one seat removed in NSW and another in Victoria along with the potential for boundary alterations. Unlikely to be completed before June 2024, how or if it will affect Eden-Monaro doesn’t appear a primary concern for local branches.
Party members point out that leader Peter Dutton called for more timely preselections earlier in the year to avoid holding up seat selection and leading to another potential tight timeframe.
Ms van der Plaat says her focus is getting out in the electorate.
“Eden-Monaro is a really big electorate with 160 communities. My priority is being out there listening to our locals and hearing directly about what’s impacting them,” she says.
“One thing that keeps emerging in the many conversations I’ve had is the ever-increasing cost of living and the pressures this continues to create.”
Having grown up in Cooma, Ms van der Plaat returned to the town in 2003 with her husband Anthony and their two children.
“Over the past 20 years I’ve built a legal career in Cooma, advising on workplace relations and property law,” she says.
Serving as the President of the Law Society of NSW in 2022, Ms van der Plaat says her professional career has focused on “creating and driving positive economic and social change, particularly in rural and regional areas.”
“I’m passionate about connecting people and creating opportunities for women, families, small businesses and young people starting out in the workforce,” she says.
“What I see coming out of the recent referendum is momentum and opportunity. Voters need a voice that will hold Labor to account and someone who will deliver in the best interests of all Eden-Monaro. I’m committed to being that voice.”
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