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Libs warn Nationals off their turf

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Senior NSW ministers Pru Goward and Katrina Hodgkinson look set to become engulfed in a turf war.

The Liberal Party has officially warned off its junior coalition partner from contesting Community Services Minister Ms Goward’s seat of Goulburn at the next election, due early next year.

Nationals MP and Primary Industries Minister Ms Hodgkinson is tipped to put her name forward for the seat after her electorate of Burrinjuck was abolished in a redistribution.

Following the announcement by NSW Nationals chairman Niall Blair on Monday, the NSW Liberals said Ms Goward was “entitled” to run as she was a serving minister.

“The Liberal party does not accept there is a need for a three-cornered contest in this seat or any seat held by the coalition in NSW,” Liberal Party state director Simon McInnes said.

Ms Hodgkinson has recently said she has not yet made up her mind whether to throw her hat in the ring for Goulburn or the newly-created neighbouring seat of Cootamundra.

“Cootamundra is a new seat, it’s a fair way from where I actually live, so that’s a challenge within itself,” Ms Hodgkinson told ABC last month.

“… it’s something I have to think about very carefully, my electorate office is in Yass which falls in to the new seat of Goulburn.”

Ms Goward and Ms Hodgkinson both enjoyed comfortable wins at the 2011 election, picking up first preference votes of 61.3 per cent and 74.4 per cent respectively.

Mr Blair said nominations for Nationals pre-selection were open and would close on February 24 before a ballot on March 14.

“The NSW Nationals have the most democratic pre-selection process of any party and I have full confidence that members in the Goulburn electorate will select a strong representative for the region,” he said.

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