"A MOOD for change" could be in the air as a potentially bloody contest looms to decide who will be the LNP candidate for Maranoa at the next federal election.
The party this week announced a cross-electorate vote of more than 1000 party members will be held, possibly as early as next month, as firebrand Senator Barnaby Joyce continues to eye off the safe seat held by veteran conservative MP Bruce Scott.
But a wildcard factor could be Warwick-based Suncorp banker and identity David Littleproud, who is strongly rumoured to be looking at a tilt, with suggestions Mr Scott is grooming him for the job should he choose not to run.
LNP state director Brad Henderson emailed LNP members across the massive Maranoa electorate - which stretches from Warwick to Winton - on Wednesday, announcing the candidate's spot would be put to a postal vote.
No date for the mailout has yet been given, but nominations could be formally thrown open within days and would be open for a fortnight.
Senator Joyce made it clear this week he would put his hand up for Maranoa if Mr Scott chose to stand down, with his eye also said to be on the deputy prime-ministership.
Mr Scott, who has previously committed strongly to running again, yesterday appeared to water down his position by saying he would only do "what is best" for the Federal Coalition.
LNP members on the Southern Downs yesterday spoke of an overall "mood for change" growing in the dozens of local party branches across Maranoa, with members keen to have a local MP who is also a minister, and possibly the nation's second-in-charge.
One senior LNP source from the region said it was their "gut feeling" that if Mr Scott and Senator Joyce went head-to-head, "Barnaby would win".
But they also said support for Mr Scott remained strong in some places, particularly among older LNP members loyal to the former Howard government minister.
"The support for Barnaby seems to grow stronger the further west you go, especially among the younger members with a more open mind, whereas around here it's more like 50/50," the source said.
"A lot of people are thinking it would be to our advantage to have an MP who is in the cabinet, which we haven't had for a while."
Mr Littleproud was yesterday staying silent on his potential political aspirations, with a firm "no comment" on the candidate's spot and the Scott-Joyce scenario as a whole.
State Member Lawrence Springborg, who as a local party member will be entitled to cast his own vote, would likewise not be drawn on which way he might roll in the ballot.
"Bruce has been a fantastic federal partner to work with, and Barnaby has likewise been a great operator in the Senate," Mr Springborg said.
"I'm not going to be drawn into it, this will be a matter for the rank and file membership to make a decision on."
The LNP has already opened nominations for Bob Katter's federal seat of Kennedy, which the party is keen to win back.
Nominations in that seat close on August 22.
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