Labor Party branch members in the Illawarra can expect to see a Rumble in the political jungle when preselections open for the seat of Throsby.
Wollongong nurse John Rumble yesterday confirmed he would step into the ring to challenge sitting member Stephen Jones for preselection, in what is expected to be a gritty power struggle between the party's Left and Right factions.
Mr Rumble, a member of Labor's Right and son of former Illawarra (now the seat of Shellharbour) MP Terry Rumble, narrowly missed winning preselection in Shellharbour last year.
Instead, Anna Watson won on a technicality.
Mr Rumble said yesterday he had already begun his campaign for preselection and had gathered initial support from several rank-and-file members.
However, in a surprise move for a candidate hoping to oust a sitting member, Mr Rumble refused to pass judgment on Mr Jones's performance during his two years in office, and even took some coaxing before he would answer the question of whether he believed he was the better man for the job.
"I won't answer that," he replied, when asked where he believed Mr Jones had fallen short in representing the people of Throsby.
"That's for the rank-and-file party members to decide."
Mr Rumble did say that he and Mr Jones had differing stances on same-sex marriage.
"I don't support it and he does," Mr Rumble said.
He also said Mr Jones had not consulted with branch members when he introduced a bill to Parliament in February proposing changes to the Marriage Act to allow same-sex couples to wed. Mr Rumble vowed, if preselected, to consult closely with branch members.
He said securing funding for the Maldon-Dombarton rail line, selling the benefits of the carbon tax and ensuring live exported animals were treated humanely would be among his top priorities if elected.
The Throsby preselection, which has not been announced officially, made headlines when Mark Hay, the son of state Wollongong MP Noreen Hay, revealed he would challenge Mr Jones for the Labor ticket.
However, Mr Hay later withdrew, saying he would be overseas on extended work commitments later this year when the preselection battle was expected to take place.
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