James Stevens preselected as Liberal candidate for Sturt to replace Christopher Pyne

Updated March 23, 2019 12:46:50

James Stevens has been preselected as the Liberal candidate for the federal seat of Sturt, after it was vacated by long-serving South Australian Liberal powerbroker Christopher Pyne.

Key points:

  • Christopher Pyne will not be contesting the election as the Member for Sturt
  • James Stevens is the president of the Sturt Federal Electorate Conference, which preselects candidates
  • He was chosen over two conservative women

Mr Stevens — a moderate ally of Mr Pyne — won preselection with more than 200 of the 300 votes on offer over female conservatives Deepa Mathew and Joanna Andrew.

He was chosen by party members at a meeting in Hackney this morning.

Mr Pyne announced his retirement as the Member for Sturt earlier this month after 26 years in Federal Parliament representing the eastern suburbs seat.

It has a 5.8 per cent margin going into the federal election, to be held in May.

Mr Stevens resigned as South Australian Premier Steven Marshall’s chief of staff on March 3 to seek preselection for the federal seat of Sturt.

Mr Stevens, 35, said he was “very excited at the opportunity to campaign” for election.

“It’s going to be quite a challenge because Christoper Pyne has quite a strong personal vote in Sturt,” Mr Stevens said.

“A lot of people who voted for the Liberal Party voted for the Liberal Party because of him, so I’ve got to gain their trust and work very hard over the next two months.

“If I’m lucky enough to be elected to the Parliament, first and foremost I have to be a very effective local representative for the area and deliver results for the people of Sturt, but I’d also absolutely like to be the kind of person that is fighting for the Liberal Party and South Australia in Canberra.”

Backing from moderates

Mr Stevens ran the last four Sturt federal election campaigns and is the president of the Sturt Federal Electorate Conference, which preselects candidates.

He is a former state president of the Young Liberals.

He worked with Mr Marshall at the Michell Wool company before the Premier entered politics.

Mr Marshall and Mr Pyne said they were “very happy” with the result.

Former Adelaide MP Trish Worth backed Mr Stevens.

“James just ticks all the boxes,” Ms Worth said.

“He could well be treasurer one day.”

Ahead of the vote, Liberal Boothby MP Nicolle Flint — a conservative — said Ms Mathew and Ms Andrew were “fantastic women”.

“At the end of the day, it is always a matter for the preselectors, and I wouldn’t dare suggest to the Liberal Party members in Sturt how they should vote, but they should be voting for the best candidate,” Ms Flint said.

Labor has chosen dispute mediator Cressida O’Hanlon as its candidate for Sturt.

Mr Pyne is the Defence Minister and Leader of the House and has previously held portfolios in education, industry, innovation, science and defence industry.

Topics: government-and-politics, parliament, federal-parliament, elections, federal-elections, liberals, australia, adelaide-5000, sa, hackney-5069, st-morris-5068

First posted March 23, 2019 11:41:02

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