Judy Plunkett joins preselection race for the federal seat of Cowper

I'm in: Port Macquarie pharmacist Judy Plunkett has entered the preselection race for The Nationals in Cowper.

I'm in: Port Macquarie pharmacist Judy Plunkett has entered the preselection race for The Nationals in Cowper.

Port Macquarie pharmacist Judy Plunkett has thrown her hat in the ring and will contest The Nationals' preselection for the federal seat of Cowper.

Ms Plunkett enters the race for preselection along with Patrick Conaghan, Jamie Harrison and Chris Genders.

The four candidates will be vying to replace the retiring member for Cowper, The Nationals' member Luke Hartsuyker. Mr Hartsuyker announced his retirementfrom federal politics in August.

Ms Punkett said she looked forward to the challenge. She said both her parents were politically active and she grew up with conservative values.

Her understanding of the important role small business plays within community was one of her great assets, she said.

"This wealth of knowledge will enable me to help small rural communities overcome hard times through implementing strategies that attract new people, investment and innovative solutions, no matter the challenge," she added.

While this not a question about gender and gender equality, I do think that a woman can bring a different perspective to a lot of issues.

Judy Plunkett

Another ambition is to provide assistance to those seeking to further their education and also to young entrepreneurs that need good advice and a guiding hand.

"My interactions with the people I look after in my businesses have made me very aware of the multitude of challenges they encounter," she said.

"This includes in health care and other areas of their daily lives such as aged care and the aged pension, dental care, drug addiction, cost of living, transport and infrastructure and affordable housing to name a few.

"There are also a myriad of national issues, including immigration, Nauru, trade, defence, education and taxation. All these issues have their own nuance for Australia and for the Cowper electorate."

Ms Plunkett said bringing a female perspective was also important to the decision-making process. 

"While this not a question about gender and gender equality, I do think that a woman can bring a different perspective to a lot of issues," she said.

"Through my career I have developed good leadership skills and together with my business acumen, real-life experience with my six children and community involvement, I have a very solid foundation to stand for all of the people who live in the seat of Cowper. 

"My representation will be for the whole electorate and I recognise there are both common and unique issues in different areas.

"Living and working in the Cowper electorate has given me a wonderful life so far and it is time for me to give back to the community that has supported me so well. 

"I want to see this electorate flourish and continue to be one of the best places in the world to live and work.

"I understand that the three male candidates have a head start in this preselection. 

"But I am willing to work hard to get up to speed on the issues relevant to this electorate and Australia," she said.

Patrick Conaghan, Chris Genders and Jamie Harrison.

Patrick Conaghan, Chris Genders and Jamie Harrison.

If successful, Ms Plunkett has indicated she will sell her pharmacy interests in Port Macquarie, Wauchope and Walcha. 

This will avoid any conflict of interest, she said.

"I have received advice that I was unable to run for federal parliament if I own a pharmacy business and have devised a program to dispose of my interests in those businesses," she said.

"This decision will allow me to concentrate 100 per cent on the Cowper electorate, if preselected.

"I think this is a very strong demonstration of the level of my commitment to being the best federal representative for the people of Cowper that you could have."

Grassroots members of The Nationals will preselect their candidate for the federal election due in May on Saturday at Macksville.

The ALP has preselected Andrew Woodward while The Greens’ candidate is Dr Sally Townley. Former member for Lyne Rob Oakeshottis yet to announce if he will contest the federal election.

The Cowper electorate includes the cities of Port Macquarie and Coffs Harbour with other major centres including Kempsey, Nambucca Heads, Macskville and South West Rocks.

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