The National Party has confirmed it will run a candidate for the seat of Port Macquarie at next year's state election.
This announcement was made during the National Party's 2022 conference held in Port Macquarie on June 17.
The seat is currently held by Leslie Williams. Mrs Williams left the National Party after nine years in September 2020 and joined the Liberal Party.
The NSW National Party chairman Andrew Fraser said during his conference address that he feels "personally betrayed" by Mrs Williams.
"The fact that she didn't like the then leader of the party, she didn't like our decision on koalas," he said.
"If Leslie had moved to the Labor party, we'd be up in arms. The liberal party have been and always will be coalition colleagues but they are also our enemy."
The seat has been held by the Nationals for all but 11 years since it was first formed in 1988.
Deputy Premier and state Nationals leader Paul Toole confirmed the party are looking for a candidate.
"In 2019 the people of Port Macquarie elected a National Party member and in 2020 we said we would be running a National Party candidate and that is our intention," he said.
"We are very keen to ensure the people of Port Macquarie will have a choice at the 2023 election and they will be able to choose who they want to represent them here in this seat."
Mrs Williams said every community across NSW including those in the Port Macquarie electorate deserve to be represented in Parliament by members that are focused on their needs, priorities and aspirations.
"They also rightly expect to always have policy overshadowing politics," she said.
"That is why my focus has and always will be on delivering for the people of the Port Macquarie electorate and that is what I will continue to do if the community makes the decision to re-elect me at the 2023 election."
Mrs Williams said she will continue to work to serve the community of Port Macquarie.
"I stand by my record of serving my community over the past decade and delivering unprecedented investment across the electorate as a member of the Liberal and Nationals Government," she said.
"I will continue to work hard to ensure that this investment is ongoing across all sectors including health, roads, schools and local infrastructure."
Mr Toole said pre-selection decisions for the National Party will be made over the coming days and months.
"Over the next couple of months we will be going out for pre-selections and will have all of our candidates on the ground ready to go by September of this year," he said.
"Each branch will have the opportunity over the next couple of months to decide when they're going to open pre-selection and then we have a process for that to occur where members can come forward and put their name to be the local candidate for that area."
"I want to make sure that all of my members retain their seats and I also want to make sure that a number of seats across this state that we're targeting, we're going to go after them and we're going to win them back.
"What I'm excited for is that we have a lot of talent and a lot of seats around the state with people saying they want to be a National Party member."
Over 300 members of the National Party are attending the three-day (June 16-18) conference in Port Macquarie.
"This conference has been three years in the making. We announced that we were going to have our conference here three years ago and obviously the COVID-19 pandemic got in the way so it's wonderful to have over 300 members here and talking about the things that matter to regional NSW," Mr Toole said.
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