Shepparton’s Sam Birrell has confirmed he will seek pre-selection for the Nationals for the seat of Nicholls.
Current Member for Nicholls Damian Drum announced earlier this month he would retire from politics at next year’s federal election.
Nicholls covers an area from Broadford in the south to the Murray River, encompassing the northern part of Mitchell Shire, part of Strathbogie Shire, and the Campaspe, Greater Shepparton and Moira municipalies.
Mr Drum has served in federal Parliament for the past six years, representing the electorates of Nicholls and prior and, prior to that, Murray.
He was a State Government politician before enterting federal Parliament, representing the Victorian upper house for 14 years.
Mr Birrell recently resigned as chief executive of the Committee for Greater Shepparton – a position he had since March 2016.
The Committee for Greater Shepparton united the region’s business and community leaders to influence public policy, advocate on issues to strengthen the economy and make the region a more vibrant place to live.
Prior to that he worked as a horticultural agronomist in the Goulburn Valley and from 2008 to 2016 was an agronomist with global micro-irrigation company Netafim, where he worked across Australia and New Zealand.
In a statement to the media, Mr Birrell, a former Assumption College Kilmore student, said if more candidates nominated for the Nationals, a pre-selection process would occur in January.
“I have lived in this region for most of my life, and I care about it deeply,” he said.
“The region has benefited enormously from the Federal Government investments and policy initiatives that are the result of hard work and community engagement of the outgoing member Damian Drum.
“My strong conviction is that to continue this positive momentum for Nicholls, we need a highly capable Nationals member in a re-elected Coalition government, and I will be focusing all my abilities and energies on achieving that outcome.
“Despite the achievements so far, there is more work to do.”
Greater Shepparton councillor and businessman Rob Priestly has also indicated he will stand as an independent in the Nicholls election
Mr Drum’s retirement also opens the door for a Liberal candidate to stand in Nicholls.
The Shepparton News has reported Cobram pomegranate orchard farmer and business studies teacher Stephen Brooks, 38, will seek Liberal Party pre-selection.