CHANGING OF THE GAURD: Gurmesh Singh and Andrew Fraser chat after Mr Singh was the winning candidate in the Nationals pre-selection.
CHANGING OF THE GAURD: Gurmesh Singh and Andrew Fraser chat after Mr Singh was the winning candidate in the Nationals pre-selection. Sam Flanagan

Singh claims Nationals pre-selection in party member vote

OZ GROUP chairman Gurmesh Singh has won pre-selection for The Nationals in the seat of Coffs Harbour.

Mr Singh was voted by the party membership ahead of fellow candidates, real estate agent, business owner and former councillor Kerry Hines, senior ranking police officer Detective Inspector Darren Jameson and local solicitor and former police officer Brett Marshall.

Incumbent Andrew Fraser is set to retire in March, with the party now drawing on fresh blood to take them forward.

The party has held the seat of Coffs Harbour since its inception in 1981 through MPs Matt Singleton and Andrew Fraser.

Mr Singh admitted to being nervous at the start of the day, but said he is now focussed on ensuring The Nationals are re-elected at the next state election.

"It's an exciting day for me today, we're entering a new era with Andrew retiring and Luke Hartsuyker retiring... we're about to see a whole lot more new representation for Coffs Harbour," Mr Singh said.

Mr Singh, who is also the vice president of the Australian Blueberry Growers Association, said he hopes to build on the great work of the current government if elected.

"I think it's important that we continue to sell our great economic message," he said.

"The Nationals have done great things for the state over the last eight years and we've built up a really good budget surplus and good cash reserves.

"Now when it's time to spend that money it should be the people who have built up those reserves who are able to decide where it gets spent."

Current Coffs Harbour parliamentarian Andrew Fraser said he was impressed by the quality of the four candidates and is looking forward to guiding Mr Singh.

"I'll work day in, day out with him to make sure The Nationals retain their seat because as my slogan was 28 and a half years ago 'You have to be in government to really get things done', and we've done a lot in the last eight years."

As for advice for Mr Singh, Mr Fraser kept it simple; stay busy.

"I see he has got boots on today, so I want to see in 12 months that he's got holes in the bottom of those boots because that's the only way you work in an electorate," he said.

"Once he is elected I want to see him buying new boots every 12 months because he should wear them out very quickly if you're doing your job."

The New South Wales State Election will be held on Saturday, March 23, 2019.

Labor has preselected Woolgoolga resident and former public servant Tony Judge as its candidate for the state seat of Coffs Harbour. 

The Shooters, Fishers and Farmers has endorsed Stuart Davidson, a long-serving Justice Department worker, who is also the secretary of the Coffs Harbour Rifle Club.