Anna McPhee is seeking special permission to run for Liberal preselection in North Shore. Photo: Australian National Retailers AssociationFormer Premier Barry O’Farrell’s chief of staff in the year before his resignation, Anna McPhee, has launched a bid for Liberal preselection in the North Shore byelection.
Nanjing Night Net

However, Ms McPhee, who is chief executive of the Retail Council, has been forced to seek special permission to nominate because she rejoined the Liberal Party on only Friday.

On Monday she asked the NSW Liberal state executive for special dispensation to nominate because party rules state that preselection candidates must have been members for at least six months.

It is understood a ballot of the state executive will take place in the next day so that Ms McPhee can nominate by the closing date of February 13.

Ms McPhee was Mr O’Farrell’s chief of staff for 10 months before he quit in April 2014 over giving false evidence at the Independent Commission Against Corruption about the gift of a $3000 bottle of Grange from businessman Nick Di Girolamo.

If allowed to nominate, as expected, Ms McPhee will be regarded as a strong contender in the preselection race.

Last week Mr O’Farrell said Ms McPhee “would be a superb candidate”. She also received an endorsement from another ex-boss, former Senator Bill Heffernan.

Other potential candidates include Felicity Wilson, a former Property Council executive and immediate past president of the party’s NSW Women’s Council, who would have the backing of the left faction.

Tim James, a former chief of staff to NSW Planning Minister Anthony Roberts, aligned with the right faction, is also being mentioned as a potential starter.

The Liberal party holds North Shore by 21.9 per cent.

The byelection – for which a date has yet to be set – was sparked by Jillian Skinner’s announcement she would retire from politics after Premier Gladys Berejiklian told her she would not retain the health portfolio in a cabinet reshuffle.

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