National

Nationals weigh up federal by-election run

By AAP Newswire

Nationals leader Michael McCormack says his party has not yet given up on running a candidate in an upcoming federal by-election.

Liberal Party faithful will gather in a virtual town hall on Friday to hear from two preselection candidates for the seat of Eden-Monaro, left vacant after the retirement of Labor MP Mike Kelly.

They will then cast their votes electronically with a candidate being decided over the weekend.

Labor has preselected former Bega mayor Kristy McBain, who has been on the campaign trail since earlier this month.

Mr McCormack said the Nationals could yet make it a three-cornered contest, despite potential candidate John Barilaro pulling out.

"As the leader of the party, I never usurped power and the autonomy of those local branches to make a decision which is best for them," Mr McCormack told reporters in Canberra on Friday.

"We look forward to seeing what those local branches say."

The favourite to win Liberal preselection is former teacher, scientist and small business operator Dr Fiona Kotvojs, from Dignams Creek, who narrowly lost to Mr Kelly at the 2019 election.

She is battling defence department official Mark Schweikert from Bungendore, a former Army Reserve officer and Queanbeyan-Palerang councillor.

Cr Schweikert will have to resign his public service role if he wins preselection in order to be eligible for election.

A date for the by-election has not been set, but is expected in late June or early July.

By-elections on average swing against the government of the day by just over three per cent.