Senator Barnaby Joyce a potential candidate for Hinkler
THE LNP sources who predicted the end of Paul Neville's career have flagged Senator Barnaby Joyce as a potential candidate in the battle for pre-selection in the federal seat of Hinkler.
Until Mr Neville's surprise announcement this week that he was to retire before the next election, Senator Joyce's bid to clinch a federal seat had stalled.
Senator Joyce had wanted to stand in the Queensland seat of Maranoa but his ambition was foiled when sitting National MP Bruce Scott declared he would run again.
On September 26 Senator Joyce said he would not run against Mr Scott, citing the unity of the Nationals and the Liberals as his first priority.
Less than three weeks after Senator Joyce's statement, Mr Neville shocked the electorate by announcing he was to step aside.
Senator Joyce needs to win a seat in the lower house to position himself as a future leader of the Nationals.
Now Hinkler, with the bulk of its population centred in Hervey Bay, Bundaberg and Childers, is being touted in LNP circles as the new platform for Senator's Joyce's ambition.
Senator Joyce issued a statement yesterday that fell short of categorical denial, saying only that he had never contemplated a run in Hinkler.
A well-placed LNP insider told the Chronicle: "Barnaby has spent a lot of time in the area this year, in Hervey Bay and Maryborough."