LNP members opt for military man
JAMES Lister has vowed to give regional Queenslanders a voice after securing the LNP candidacy for the Southern Downs yesterday.
The Royal Australian Air Force officer was announced as the party's preferred candidate to replace veteran MP Lawrence Springborg at the next state election.
The LNP began counting the votes of about 320 financial party members at the Warwick Senior Citizens' Centre at 11am yesterday, with Mr Lister triumphing over fellow candidates, Southern Downs councillors Cameron Gow and Jo McNally.
Speaking from the RAAF Amberley base yesterday morning, Mr Lister said he was thrilled to have secured the candidacy.
"It's a great honour to be chosen by my fellow LNP members as their candidate at the next election,” he said.
"Following in the footsteps of Lawrence Springborg is a huge challenge and one that I'm ready for.
"The hard work starts today.”
The 40-year-old officer and his wife, Belinda, will leave their jobs with the RAAF to focus on the election campaign.
The couple with their sons Jeremy, 6, and William, 3, will move to Stanthorpe to live near Mr Lister's parents and his sister's family.
Mr Lister said he was keen to start working toward better services for Southern Downs residents.
"Under the Labor Government, regional Queensland has been forgotten,” he said.
"The LNP has been listening, planning and, if we have the support to form government, we will take action to build a better Queensland.
"There are problems that need fixing in Southern Downs and I will be working with Lawrence to argue our case for better roads, better mobile and internet coverage and better health services.”
Mr Lister has 25 years of experience with the National Party, having joined the Young Nationals as a teenager and serving previously as a party recruitment officer.
He also ran as the Nationals candidate for Logan in 1998 but lost to ALP candidate John Mickel.
He has served in the RAAF for 17 years, including as aide-de-camp to Quentin Bryce when she was Queensland Governor from 2003-2008.
Both Crs Gow and McNally were present at yesterday morning's count, and Cr Gow offered his congratulations to Mr Lister.
"I wish James all the best with his campaign and we'll have to wait to see when the state election will be called,” he said.
"I was excited to have this opportunity to represent the region at a different level.
"It seemed like great timing that, had I been selected, I could have resigned and allowed Craig (Magnussen) to step up and save the community a by- election and have a smooth transition, but it wasn't to be.
"It was a short, sharp process and I certainly didn't take my eye off local government duties so nothing's changed and I will continue to serve the community.”
The Daily News also contacted Cr McNally for comment but did not hear from her before going to print.
Goondiwindi councillor and LNP electoral chairman Rob Mackenzie said Mr Lister would be formally accepted at a management committee meeting in about two weeks.
"James couldn't be there this morning so he will have to sign forms and be formally accepted at management committee meeting in about fortnight's time,” he said.
The Daily News asked Cr Mackenzie whether the 'no candidate' option (on the ballot paper) had received the second highest number of votes but he would not confirm the margins .
"I'm not sure of what would have been the exact process if no candidate had received the most votes but I believe the process would have to have have been redone if that were the case,” he said.
The state election is due to be called before January.