Tasmanian business and manufacturing tycoon, Dale Elphinstone, has thrown his support behind North-West political aspirant, Craig Brakey, to gain Liberal Senate preselection for next year’s federal poll.
Burnie-based Mr Elphinstone wields considerable influence and is a financial Life Member of the Liberal Party as well as being known as a strong party donor.
A spokeswoman for Mr Elphinstone said: “Dale is supportive of Craig’s preselection and thinks he will bring some much-needed new talent to the local Liberal team.”
Mr Brakey has been a Liberal supporter for a long time, but is not an active party member at branch level like a lot of the Senate contenders are and he must quickly convince 66 preselectors to vote for him.
However, he already has a statewide profile, is successful, well-connected and well-liked.
The son of a Rosebery miner, is a former McDonalds franchisee.
He opened the Wagyu Bakery in Devonport and sold it last year.
He owns a Spreyton storage unit business. Brakey offers a fresh face with middle-ground voter appeal and a chance to win back some disgruntled Liberals who turned to the likes of independent Craig Garland at the Braddon byelection.
Mr Garland polled extremely well.
It’s believed Mr Brakey just failed to get byelection preselection, which recycled Liberal candidate, Brett Whiteley, lost to Labor’s Justine Keay after being picked by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to run.
A Liberal Party source said it’s believed Mr Whiteley has also nominated for Senate preselection.
Mr Whiteley did not respond to a request to return a call.
The deadline for Liberal preselection nominations was on Wednesday at 5pm with a decision to be made on September 8.
Incumbent senator Richard Colbeck is likely to gain the number one spot on the Liberal ticket.
He was a minister when he lost his seat in 2016, after being dumped to the unwinnable fifth spot, but attracted a huge personal vote.
He regained the seat due to the dual citizenship recount and voters could be unimpressed if he was to be shunted again.
However, the Liberal Party faces a problem due to its lack of federal female representation and could feel obliged to stand a strong female candidate in the winnable first or second ticket position.
With six Senate seats available the Liberals and Labor are set to win two each and the Greens one with Nick McKim.
Jacqui Lambie could vie for the last seat against Labor, but it’s possible the Liberals could win a third.
It’s understood, Devonport Chamber of Commerce and Industry president, Stacey Sheehan, has nominated for Liberal senate preselection, but does not like her chances against former Young Liberals president Claire Chandler, believed to be Senator Eric Abetz’s pick.
Political staffer Wendy Summers, sister of senator David Bushby, and Hobart alderman Tanya Denison are both believed to have nominated as well as Whiteley’s byelection campaign manager Kent Townsend.
It’s not known if Wynyard RSL president, Gavin Pearce, who put his hand up at the byelection, has nominated.
Liberal Party state director Sam McQuestin was contacted for comment.