Blair shoots up party ranks

LEFT: Newly elected NSW Nationals chairman and former Goulburn man, Niall Blair MLC, with Goulburn MP Pru Goward at the conference opening. THE NSW Nationals have elected Upper House member Niall Blair as the new party chairman at their annual conference in the Southern Highlands.
Nanjing Night Net

Mr Blair said that one of his first priorities would be to encourage greater engagement between the party and its parliamentary wing.

“We have a strong membership who represent a diverse range of communities and opinions within regional NSW, and as both a chairman and a parliamentarian I want to draw on that experience to deliver for the regions.”

Mr Blair is 35 and lives with his family on a property at Sutton Forest, in the Southern Highlands. He grew up in Goulburn and worked as a horticulturalist for Leeton Shire Council and as a small business owner before entering state parliament at the 2011 election, where he was one of two Young Nationals elected to the Legislative Council.

Mr Blair paid tribute to his predecessor, Christine Ferguson, who is standing down after serving five years as chairman, the maximum permissible under the party’s constitution.

“Christine’s time in office has marked a turning point in the history of The Nationals,” he said.

“Our membership has increased, our finances are strong and at the last state election we recorded one of the best results in the party’s history.

“Most importantly, in places like Dubbo, Tamworth and Port Macquarie people are turning to us to give voice to their concerns and their aspirations. “This is a heavy responsibility and I am determined to make sure that our party lives up to those expectations.”

Former Riverina MP Kay Hull was elected as one of the party’s vice-chairmen, along with incumbent Bede Burke, of Tamworth.

The Nationals’ annual general conference is the peak policy making body of the NSW party, with more than 300 delegates debating issues such as coal seam gas and foreign ownership of agricultural land over the weekend.

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