Restoring small business, empowering community is Narelle Storey's focus

News of candidates for an upcoming Eden-Monaro byelection continues to filter in, with minor parties and independents making themselves known even before one of the major parties finalises its representative.

Narelle Storey has been named as the Christian Democratic Party's candidate for the Eden-Monaro byelection.

Narelle Storey has been named as the Christian Democratic Party's candidate for the Eden-Monaro byelection.

Narelle Storey of Cobargo has been named as the Christian Democratic Party candidate, relating her own experience of the devastation wrought by the New Year's bushfire to the resilience of the entire community.

"There's been lots of talk and lots of promises made, but at the end of the day, it's been the kindness of locals that has made this difficult time bearable," the CDP said in a media statement introducing Ms Storey as its candidate.

When fire ripped through Quaama and Cobargo, Ms Storey was in the centre of it all. Living behind the iconic Cobargo Train Cafe, now immortalised in media images throughout the world, the fire breached her room and even melted the iron frame of her antique bed.

"I could have lost my life so easily," she said.

"None of us expected the fire to come to town. We were fast asleep and if it wasn't for a mysterious text from a girl I'd met while doing some volunteer work at the Quaama hall garden, I would have died."

Narelle Storey looks over the devastation in her home town of Cobargo following the New Year's bushfires.

Narelle Storey looks over the devastation in her home town of Cobargo following the New Year's bushfires.

CDP Parliamentary leader Fred Nile said Ms Storey "is a great fit" for Eden-Monaro.

"She has shared in the suffering of her community and has proven her tenacity, courage and resilience by actioning Restore Australia, a not-for-profit community recovery plan even in the midst of her own displacement. She will be a strong voice for the people."

Ms Storey said the idea for ReStore Australia had its beginnings while she sat in an evacuation centre at Wallaga Lake on January 1.

"It was a very strong impression. I guess I must have heard that the shops at Cobargo had burnt down and while I was considering what was to become of us, I saw the word 'Restore' and with that came a flood of strategies - a website for displaced local businesses, a store for the restore, where money could be raised through the sale of locally produced items; a place where people could tell their story, get help, promote their business and volunteer.

"We have started with our local area, creating ReStoreCobargo.com and LETS Restore Australia community exchange.

"There's still so much yet to be done, but it's my ultimate aim to bottle up the essence of this community, to extract the elements that worked so well for us and replicate it in other rural towns.

"This is about empowering communities to find and action their own solutions, rather than wait for promised handouts that often just don't materialise."

While a date for the Eden-Monaro byelection is yet to be called, a number of people have made public their intentions to stand.

Labor has preselected Bega Valley councillor Kristy McBain and has already been active on the campaign trail in recent days.

Liberal Democrat Dean McCrae, coordinator of the party's southern districts branch, has also entered the fray, as has independent Andrew Thaler, a solar farm developer from Nimmitabel.

Bredbo businesswoman Karen Porter is also running as an independent under the banner of newly formed group The New Liberals.

Meanwhile, the Liberal Party is holding an internal ballot this weekend to determine its candidate - either Fiona Kotvojs or Mark Schweikert.

This story Restoring small business, empowering community is Narelle Storey's focus first appeared on Bega District News.