Noreen Hay faces Labor challenge

Wollongong MP Noreen Hay looks set to face a preselection challenge ahead of next year's state election, with long-term party member Paul Scully announcing his bid to be the seat's next Labor candidate.

The Figtree man, who works as the chief operating officer at the University of Wollongong's Australian Institute for Innovative Materials, announced to branch members last month his intentions to run against Ms Hay.

In a letter to rank-and-file members, Mr Scully said he had decided to stand for preselection after "intensified" encouragement from party members and those in the broader community.

Yesterday, Mr Scully told the Mercury he did not wish to comment on his decision to stand, as it was "an internal party matter" and there had been no formal dates set down for preselection at this stage.

However, in his letter he indicated Labor in Wollongong was due for "renewal".

"The Australian Labor Party has a long tradition of renewal and reform to make sure that at every election the best possible team is put forward," he wrote.

"I bring to my candidacy more than 20 years of party membership and active participation through positions including ... NSW branch general returning officer and campaign director for Labor candidates at all levels of government."

This is not the first time Mr Scully has been a possible Labor candidate.

In 2009, when he was the chief of staff for federal ageing minister Justine Elliot, he was touted as the right faction's most likely candidate for Throsby.

However, the position fell to left faction candidate, Stephen Jones.

Ms Hay - a leading figure in the powerful Labor Right - has represented the state seat of Wollongong since 2003, after she won ALP preselection from the sitting member Col Markham in 2002.

Her three-term tenure as Wollongong MP has not been without controversies, including an incident at the 2008 post-budget party in which then Kiama MP Matt Brown was accused of cavorting with Ms Hay in a sexually suggestive manner.

Factionally unaligned Mount Kembla lawyer Carol Berry announced plans to challenge Ms Hay in 2012.

However, it is not known if she still intends to run for preselection in Wollongong.

The NSW election is due to be held on March 28 next year.

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