THE Liberal Party will make the Hunter a priority in next year’s federal election, in particular the seat of Charlton, presently held by Climate Change Minister Greg Combet.
NSW Liberal Party president and senator Arthur Sinodinos said the party was hoping to build on its success in last year’s state election.
‘‘We want to promote opportunity and I think people want to send a message to Labor in the Hunter that they are not to be taken for granted,’’ he said.
Mr Sinodinos, chief-of-staff to former prime minister John Howard, said the Hunter campaign would focus on the seats of Newcastle, Shortland and Charlton.
‘‘We have got state members up here now, I want to replicate that at a federal level with Jaimie Abbott in Newcastle and our candidate in Shortland when he or she is preselected,’’ he said.
‘‘We also want to look at Greg Combet’s seat. Mr Combet needs to be looking over his shoulder because we are going to have a good look at Charlton. We are going to give that seat a really good shake.’’
Mr Sinodinos, who studied commerce at the University of Newcastle, was back in his home town yesterday to open BG&E Infrastructure’s Newcastle office.
BG&E Infrastructure is a joint venture between BG&E Engineering and Australian Water Holdings.
Former state treasurer and minister for the Hunter Michael Costa is a director of the company, which is based in King Street, Newcastle.
Mr Sinodinos said he believed the Hunter had a bright economic future.
‘‘It has a great history, a great industrial history, it’s a great coal port, the steelworks may be gone but there are other industries,’’ he said.
‘‘I like the way the university is linked into the city and the role it is playing as a generator of economic activity and also as a generator of ideas.’’