NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro will not contest the federal seat of Eden-Monaro in an upcoming byelection, potentially clearing the way for Coalition colleague Andrew Constance to shift to federal politics.
The NSW South Coast seat was vacated last week after popular Labor member Mike Kelly retired due to ill health.
Federal Labor leader Anthony Albanese said retaining the NSW seat would be a challenge, even though it is 100 years since a government has taken a seat in a byelection. Labor has chosen Bega mayor Kristy McBain to run for the seat.
Mr Barilaro announced on Monday he would not contest the seat, saying in a statement he could achieve more as leader of the NSW Nationals.
“In politics, ego can quickly skew decisions and sometimes makes you forget what is best for yourself, your family and what could be the best outcome for the people of Eden-Monaro,” Mr Barilaro said.
He said he would continue to fight for residents of the NSW south coast from his position on Macquarie Street.
This opens the way for Mr Constance, the NSW Transport Minister and Bega MP, to step forward. Mr Constance reportedly told the Liberal state executive he would not have run if Mr Barilaro put his hand up for the seat.
Liberal senator Jim Molan is also reportedly considering standing.
Mr Albanese told Sky News on Sunday Ms McBain was ready to represent the people of her constituency rather than herself.