MEMBER for Monaro John Barilaro says Queanbeyan’s successful bid to host the 2014 National Party’s Annual Conference speaks to the city’s enduring political significance.
As the largest city in the marginal electorate of Monaro, Queanbeyan’s voters will hold significant sway in determining which party holds the reins of power in Sydney at the 2015 State Election.
The seat of Monaro was previously held by Labour’s Steve Whan before Mr Barilaro unseated the incumbent in 2011.
And Mr Barilaro said he hadn’t refrained from highlighting Monaro’s electoral importance in his bid to lure the annual National Party gathering to Queanbeyan.
“Definitely, and that was part of my presentation to members that Monaro is a bellwether seat and it’s a marginal seat,” Mr Barilaro said. “I think it’s important for the National Party to get behind its marginal members and it speaks volumes to Queanbeyan’s importance come election time.”
A date for the conference – which will attract more than 500 delegates to the city – has yet to be set but will be held sometime between July and September, 2014.
Queanbeyan beat out bids from Lismore, Tweed Heads and Coffs Harbour to win hosting rights for the conference which is expected to provide a significant financial boost to local businesses.
“When you’re up against places like Tweed Heads and Coffs Harbour that were promoting their beautiful coastal locations in their bids, it wasn’t an easy task to entice delegates to the colder climate of Queanbeyan,” Mr Barilaro said of his lobbying efforts.
“But I successfully prosecuted the case that the National Party is already well regarded in the North and West of the state…while Queanbeyan is a good place to showcase what the Nationals are about in this region,” he said.
Mr Barilaro said efforts would now have to be undertaken in order to secure a suitable space for the conference with the Conference Centre or The Q the most likely venues.
And the first-term member confirmed he would be taking full advantage of hometown advantage to pursue a number of issues close to hearts of local voters.
“I’ll certainly be using the conference to put a spotlight on cross-border issues like delivering health services and education that affect a city like Queanbeyan that tends to sit in Canberra’s shadow,” he said.
This year’s National Party conference will be held in Bathurst in June.