Woman minister's bid for safe seat fails

November 29, 2022 03:31 PM AEDT | By AAPNEWS
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The NSW premier has invoked a taco ad's tagline while defending the snubbing of Roads Minister Natalie Ward after she failed to move into the Liberal Party's safest seat.

Ms Ward, an upper house MP and one of three Liberal women in cabinet, lost a preselection contest on Monday night for the seat of Davidson to former premier Mike Baird' s ex-staffer Matt Cross.

It's another blow to the Liberal Party's attempt to increase the number of women in the lower house from seven of its 33 members.

Premier Dominic Perrottet said Ms Ward remained a "leading light" in the party and would continue to be a strong contributor in the upper house.

She had faced another strong candidate in Mr Cross, a Harvard graduate, he said.

"As they say in the Old El Paso ads, porque no los dos? Why not both?" the premier told reporters on Tuesday.

"That's exactly what we have.

"Natalie is a leading light, she's a future leader of the Liberal Party and she will continue to make a strong contribution."

The frontbencher, who is also women's safety minister, congratulated Mr Cross on Tuesday, saying he had a strong vision and her full support in the lead up to the election.

"Serving the people of NSW remains the greatest honour of my lifetime," she said in a statement.

"My focus remains steadfast on providing a brighter future for everyone across this state, that is easier on families and provides the right opportunities for more people."

Karen Freyer, who will run as a 'teal' independent candidate at the March election in the seat of Vaucluse, said the Liberal Party was going backwards in getting more women preselected in safe seats.

Ms Freyer said it was clear the party's preselection process didn't work at promoting women in the ranks.

"Perrottet's made much of his commitment to get more women into parliament but it doesn't seem like the party members are listening," Ms Freyer said.

"If the most senior female Liberal MP and minister in the current government doesn't have merit then who does?"

Davidson, covering parts of Sydney's north shore and northern beaches, is held by the Liberals with a margin of more than 25 per cent.

Sitting MP and lower house Speaker Jonathan O'Dea announced in September he would step down at the election.

Ms Ward doesn't face re-election to the upper house until 2025, having faced election in 2019.

Her failed move to the lower house follows the preselection loss last Thursday of three-term MP Melanie Gibbons.

The member for Holsworthy lost out to challenger former deputy mayor and English teacher Tina Ayyad.


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