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Farmer nominates for Bob Carr’s Senate vacancy

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A farmer from south-west slopes of NSW has put her hand up for the Labor Party’s vacant Senate seat for that state.

Vivien Thomson, a mixed farmer from Muttama and president of Australian Women In Agriculture, is the secretary of Labor’s Jugiong/Tumut/Gundagai branch.

She says she’s not aligned to any faction, and decided to nominate herself because she wants to give a voice to rural people in Australia’s most populous state.

The Senate vacancy was confirmed yesterday, when after weeks of speculation about his future, Bob Carr announced he’s resigning from the Senate, despite being elected for a six-year term in September.

Two of the NSW Labor MPs who lost their seats at the election, Mike Kelly from the south-east, and Deb O’Neil from the Central Coast, are considered the most likely candidates to take over from Senator Carr.

Ms Thomson concedes she’s an outside chance.

“I’ve been told I don’t have much of a chance at all, but at the end of the day you don’t let that stop you putting your hand up,” she said.

“I’m going to give it my best shot, and I’m going to try and ensure that the Labor Party understands that I bring a much different voice to the political spectrum. It’s a voice based on a long history with the rural, regional and remote areas.

“Bill Shorten has talked about bringing diversity into the party, and I think that’s what I bring, and I think that’s really important.”

Ms Thomson says she’ll spend tomorrow driving around the region, securing the signatures that she needs to formally lodge her nomination.

She says she’s received “tremendous support” from party members in the Riverina and south-west slopes.

The period for nominations closes next week, and the decision is expected to be made shortly afterwards, so that the new senator can be present when parliament reconvenes in November.

Ms Thomson, who was the NSW runner-up in this year’s Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation’s Rural Women’s Award, says her decision to nominate is the culmination of a number of experiences.

“I have a very strong fire-fighting background, I have a very strong rural background, I’ve done a lot of stuff at a national and local level,” Ms Thomson said.

“I travelled through outback NSW a few months ago with my son and [saw] all these areas, and this landscape that looks quite tired, and [talked] to all these vibrant, wonderful, resilient people who feel like they don’t really have a voice.

“These people need a voice on all sides of politics, not just one side.

“I think that was one of the things that lead me to that decision, to put a nomination in and put my hand up and say, ‘I can give something very different to the [Labor] Party’.”