Matthew Flanagan.
Matthew Flanagan. File

Byrne gets nod as Labor candidate

MATTHEW Flanagan has withdrawn from the race to become Robert Schwarten’s successor, leaving the path clear for Bill Byrne’s endorsement as Labor’s next candidate for Rockhampton.

Mr Flanagan made his decision despite securing what The Morning Bulletin understands was a resounding 49-1 backing from the party’s Brisbane-based electoral college.

Premier Anna Bligh supported Mr Byrne.

It’s understood Mr Flanagan, needing only a small portion of the local vote, failed to secure majority support of Rockhampton’s rank and file Labor members and he followed through on a promise to withdraw if that didn’t occur.

On Wednesday, Member for Rockhampton Robert Schwarten praised both Mr Flanagan and Mr Byrne, who, he said, would make a strong candidate.

He said the result was a victory for local branch members, who voted 55-15 in favour of Mr Byrne.

“One thing we have always prided ourselves on in Rockhampton is that we don’t care much about the Brisbane process,” Mr Schwarten said.

“To Matthew’s eternal credit he believes in the local rank and file.”

Mr Schwarten said Mr Byrne had been supported by the Premier.

“She certainly took my word as to what was happening on the ground (in Rockhampton),” Mr Schwarten said.

“I said we had two good candidates, but I thought Bill would win locally.

“I am looking forward to Bill Byrne being the next Member for Rockhampton.”

Mr Flanagan declined to comment when The Morning Bulletin contacted him earlier this week.

On Tuesday, Mr Byrne said he did not want to appear presumptuous by commenting while the selection process was still to be finalised.

However, he confirmed he would seek the support of the Rail, Tram and Bus Union – which campaigned heavily against Labor’s asset sell-off – if he was endorsed.

Rockhampton candidates:

Bruce Diamond (Independent)

Bill Byrne (Labor)

LNP (candidate unknown)

Shane Guley (Queensland Independent Party)

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