The Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party has included another Orange member in its bid for a position in the NSW upper house.
Brett Cooke, a senior electorate officer for member for Orange Phil Donato, was elected in the number two position for the party’s ticket on Tuesday.
Mr Cooke will continue in his role as Mr Donato’s re-election campaign manager until he takes leave from February 18 until the statewide poll on March 23.
Mr Cooke said he was honoured to be selected and is committed to representing rural and regional NSW.
“I believe the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers party is doing an awesome job in representing the people of rural and regional NSW,” he said.
Party chairman Mark Banasiak was elected to head the upper house ticket in the number one position.
I believe the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers party is doing an awesome job in representing the people of rural and regional NSW.Brett Cooke
He will replace Robert Brown who served the party since 2006 when he replaced John Tingle.
Mr Brown, who has served in the Legislative Council since 2006 and is the party's longest-serving member, said he was blindsided by the move, likening it to a “coward’s punch”.
“I didn't see it coming. And I didn't get up off the floor after I was hit,” Mr Brown said.
Mr Brown was rolled at the party’s preselection panel meeting on Tuesday, after Mr Banasiak challenged him for the top spot.
“I’m disappointed because I felt I had a job unfinished in the NSW Parliament,” Mr Brown said.
“I'm the most capped player on the field [for the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party]. I have four pieces of legislation to my name.”
Mr Banasiak, 37, is a teacher and the chairman of the Federation of Hunting Clubs. His preselection means he is almost guaranteed an eight-year term in the upper house.
Mr Brown's upper house colleague Robert Borsak said there was a view in the party that Mr Brown, who is 68, was “too old to go for another term of eight years” while Mr Banasiak was part of a “succession plan”.
“The party is looking for generational change,” Mr Borsak, 65, said.
The NSW National Party, which is under threat from the Shooters in key regional seats, tweeted their disappointment at Mr Brown's ousting.
“Despite our political differences, we always found Robert Brown to be a man of honesty and integrity who was reasonable to deal with,” the Nationals said.
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