The Whitlam electorate includes the southern highlands as well as Shellharbour in the Illawarra and is held by Labor frontbencher Stephen Jones by a margin of 10.9 per cent.
Another of the party’s nomination review committees approved Sam Kayal as the candidate for Werriwa in western Sydney, held by Labor’s Anne Stanley by 5.5 per cent.
The meeting on Bennelong approved two potential candidates, former political adviser Gisele Kapterian and City of Sydney councillor Craig Chung, who will contest a preselection likely in March to give party members a choice in who could replace retiring MP John Alexander.
The Liberals are yet to choose candidates for Dobell on the central coast, Eden-Monaro on the south coast and Hughes in southern Sydney, where Mr Morrison wants to install state Liberal Melanie Gibbons in a bid to remove the sitting MP, Craig Kelly, who quit the Liberals for Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party last February.
A decision on Hughes is unlikely before a series of NSW state byelections on February 12, when the outcome will reveal whether NSW Liberal Premier Dominic Perrottet and his government can afford another byelection in order for Ms Gibbons to move to Federal Parliament.
The Liberal Party’s moderate wing is backing local lawyer Jenny Ware for Hughes instead. While the seat is usually safe for the Liberals, the party is up against several independents as well as Mr Kelly.
Neither of the major parties has chosen a candidate for Parramatta, with factions at odds inside the Labor Party over the best person to replace Julie Owens, who has held the seat since 2004.
With Senator Payne having Mr Morrison’s support to lead the Liberal Senate ticket at the coming election, Senator Molan and Senator Fierravanti-Wells are heading for a tough contest to decide which of them gains support from branch members to stay in Parliament.
Nominations for the party’s Senate preselection close on Wednesday. Liberals believe they have two “winnable” positions on the Senate ticket in NSW, being the first and third positions with the Nationals taking the second on a shared ticket.