Robert Schwarten
Robert Schwarten Sharyn O'Neill ROK230312soffice1

Two new Labor contenders for Rocky step up

LABOR stalwart Robert Schwarten has withdrawn from the race to be Labor's replacement for Rockhampton MP Bill Byrne after two "quality” people put their hands up for preselection nomination.

Mr Schwarten had been prepared to nominate for Rockhampton pre-selection if his pick Dan Coxen was eliminated from the process due to a nomination technicality.

Dan Coxen will stand for pre-selection for the Labor Party for the seat of Rockhampton.
Dan Coxen will stand for pre-selection for the Labor Party for the seat of Rockhampton. Ian Wilkinson Australia

But that contingency plan changed early Friday morning when The Morning Bulletin's front-page story on Mr Schwarten's proposal hit the newsstands and websites.

Mr Schwarten said he took two calls in quick succession after 7.15am.

"I won't be needing to run (against high-profile Labor preselection candidate Rockhampton mayor Margaret Strelow),” he said yesterday.

"If they (the Australian Workers Union) knock Dan Coxen out, we still have up to two quality candidates who are ready to step in.”

At this stage MrSchwarten was not prepared to name the potential candidates other than to say they were "quality people”; one aged in his 50s and the other in his late 20s.

Mr Schwarten said he was determined to see someone stand against Cr Strelow and was relieved that he was no longer the centre of attention.

"One way or another (Labor party members) locals will get a say, that's the way it should be,” he said.

"We need a good new face. Young blood to take us different places.”

Biloela-based Queensland Teachers' Union organiser Dan Coxen is 39 years old and although the State Labor administrative committee has accepted his nomination, it's believed the AWU, who the Bulletin understands is backing CrStrelow, may lodge a protest.

To qualify for preselection you must be registered with a Labor branch for at least six months and Mr Coxen had only been registered for three months.

Mr Schwarten said this was only because there were no branches at Biloela and this technicality could be overruled as it had been in previous cases in other electorates.

A decision on whether Mr Coxen is eligible will be made on Tuesday by the State administrative committee.

"No matter what happens we will have a plebiscite,” Mr Schwarten said.



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