FARMING advocate Roma Britnell is likely to become the first woman to represent the Western District in the state’s lower house following her pre-selection victory.
Mrs Britnell was selected as the Liberal Party candidate for South West Coast on Sunday, defeating five other nominees to clinch the coveted role.
She replaces former premier Denis Napthine as the Liberal Party’s representative in the electorate following his retirement.
“It’s a great honour – I couldn’t be happier to represent the Liberal Party,” the 48-year-old said. “I know this region, I’m passionate about this region and I’ve always been working to get the best for this region.”
The Woolsthorpe farmer is the first woman to win south-west Liberal pre-selection since Eda Ritchie prior to the 1988 state election.
Five women and one man – the former premier’s son Tom Napthine – took part in the pre-selection convention on Sunday. More than 100 members were involved.
“Roma is someone who has been here (in the south-west) virtually all her life,” Opposition Leader Matthew Guy said. “She’s raised her children here, her business here, gone to school here.
“I couldn’t think of someone better to advocate for the south west in Parliament.”
A former nurse, Mrs Britnell was Victoria’s Rural Woman of the Year in 2009 and has also won a Nuffield agricultural scholarship.
In the neighbouring Polwarth electorate, Colac businessman Richard Riordan achieved a decisive victory at the Liberal Party’s Polwarth pre-selection convention on Saturday.
The 43-year-old defeated three other nominees on the first ballot, replacing retiring Polwarth MP Terry Mulder as the party’s representative.
More than 130 local party members and randomly-selected delegates took part in the pre-selection at the Colac Otway Performing Arts and Cultural Centre.
“I’m a very passionate local Polwarth person and look forward to representing our area the best way I can,” he said.
“It was a great honour to win convincingly. It means I’ve got the support of the Liberal Party supporters here in Polwarth and I hope to do them proud.
“It’s something I’ve looked towards doing for a long time - Terry’s resignation provided the opportunity.”