Chester rules out state tilt

Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester.

Michelle Slater

Federal Nationals Member for Gippsland Darren Chester has quashed speculation he was aiming for a crack at running for the seat of Morwell in next year’s Victorian state election.
But Mr Chester did confirm he had been approached by senior Nationals party figures to consider running for Morwell – a seat held by Independent and ex-National Russell Northe.
“I have carefully considered the suggestion, but believe I can best serve Gippsland and the Latrobe Valley by continuing my work in the federal parliament,” Mr Chester told The Express.
“The experience I have developed at a senior level in government has made me well-equipped to keep delivering outcomes for the Latrobe Valley in whatever role I hold in federal parliament in the future.”
The former Veterans Affairs Minister recently announced he was having a breather from the National party room, in the wake of party leader Barnaby Joyce dumping him from the ministry earlier this year.
Mr Chester said he had been pre-selected as The Nationals candidate for the seat of Gippsland and intended to contest the next federal election to be held in the next 12 months.
“At the same time, I look forward to supporting The Nationals candidate in the state seat of Morwell, when the preselection is held,” he said.
“The Nationals have a strong and united team in Victoria that is standing up for regional communities with sensible and well-balanced policies.”
Victorian party colleague and Member for Eastern Victoria Melina Bath said all state Nationals MPs in Gippsland had a “solid and great working relationship” with Mr Chester.
Ms Bath said she was “confident” Mr Chester would head into the next federal election with the Nationals.
“I would be highly surprised if he didn’t. He is doing an amazing job at representing Gippsland issues in Canberra, I will be pleased to see him continue to do this,” Ms Bath said.
Ms Bath said the Victorian party was yet to open its pre-selection process for next year’s state election.