News State Victoria News Premier wants minister to stay on

Premier wants minister to stay on

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Premier Denis Napthine wants Victorian government minister Mary Wooldridge to continue her career in state parliament after she lost a preselection battle for the safe seat of Kew.

In an embarrassing blow to the government, the community services minister lost a Liberal preselection contest for Kew on Sunday to former local mayor Tim Smith.

Premier Denis Napthine had strongly backed Ms Wooldridge, saying she would win preselection after her seat of Doncaster was abolished in an electoral redistribution.

Ms Wooldridge said she will now contemplate her future.

“Obviously I’m disappointed but it’s an important part of a democracy of our party,” she told reporters.

She says she will discuss her future with her husband and colleagues.

Mr Smith, seen as a rising star in the party, said he was humbled to be chosen by about 300 mainly rank and file Liberal members, but would not take questions.

“Extraordinary day, for which I’m truly humbled by the honour the Liberal party in Kew has bestowed on me,” he told reporters.

Dr Napthine said he had no regret in strongly supporting Ms Wooldridge’s preselection.

“She was a great candidate and I thought she would win,” he said.

The premier said Ms Wooldridge was an outstanding contributor who will remain in his cabinet prior to November’s election.

He wanted to ensure the government does all it can so Ms Wooldridge can continue on his team.

“I’ll be encouraging Mary Wooldridge to continue her state parliamentary career,” he said.

Dr Napthine congratulated Mr Smith and said his team would support him.

“Tim Smith is a young man with a great track record and certainly has a great future,” he said.

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