Liberal Party labels itself byelection 'underdogs' in Eden-Monaro

Fiona Kotvojs will go head-to-head with Mark Schweikert in a Liberal Party preselection battle. Photo: Elesa Kurtz
Fiona Kotvojs will go head-to-head with Mark Schweikert in a Liberal Party preselection battle. Photo: Elesa Kurtz

Oxfam Australia board member Fiona Kotvojs will go head to head with former Queanbeyan-Palerang deputy mayor Mark Schweikert in a Liberal Party preselection battle for the upcoming Eden-Monaro byelection.

The party's state director Chris Stone said the Liberals will be going into the byelection campaign as "underdogs".

An Australian Institute poll of almost 1000 Eden-Monaro residents on Tuesday found Labor ahead 51.1 per cent to 48.9 per cent on a two-party preferred basis, based on preference flows at the 2019 election, with the economy considered the biggest issue by voters.

"The last time a government won a seat from an opposition in a by-election was in 1920, 100 years ago. History is against us and Labor start this by-election as favourites," Mr Stone said.

Mark Schweikert will contest preselection for the Liberal Party in the upcoming Eden-Monaro byelection. Photo: Supplied

Mark Schweikert will contest preselection for the Liberal Party in the upcoming Eden-Monaro byelection. Photo: Supplied

The selection of Dr Kotvojs and Cr Schweikert follows a dramatic few weeks for the party, which saw Bega MP Andrew Constance backflip on a switch to federal politics following disparaging remarks by Coalition colleague John Barilaro who also dropped out of byelection contention.

Mr Constance was later cut from his position as Leader of the House in NSW, with Nationals deputy leader David Littleproud saying the Coalition deserved an "uppercut".

The party's members will will now take part in an electronic preselection vote on May 22 to see who will take on Labor's newly recruited candidate and former Bega Valley mayor Kristy McBain following the early retirement of Labor's Mike Kelly due to illness.

Party members will be able to question the preselection candidates, and will then have 24 hours to vote for their preferred candidate.

The party describes Dr Kotvojs, who lives in Dignams Creek, as a former teacher, coastal geomorphologist, beef farmer and small businesswoman, who contested the seat at the 2019 election, losing to Dr Kelly despite securing a swing of more than two per cent.

A volunteer firefighter, Anglican Church Property Trustee and Oxfam Australia board member; Dr Kotvojs has "established two successful small businesses, and is helping to establish a food trail to help local businesses", the party said.

Bungendore's Cr Schweikert is a Department of Defence Director, Queanbeyan-Palerang councillor and a former Regional Development Australia chair and artillery army reserve officer, the party said.

He is a vice-president of the Navy League of Australia and chairs the Queanbeyan-Palerang Economic Advisory Panel, the party said.

This story Liberal Party labels itself byelection 'underdogs' in Eden-Monaro first appeared on Bega District News.