Christian Ellis in the fight for Farrer

Local member Sussan Ley managed to stave off a challenge from Independent Kevin Mack at the last Federal Government election, but this time the challenge will be coming from inside her own party.

Former Liberal Party state executive member Christian Ellis (pictured) nominated for preselection last week.

A date for the federal election has not been announced, but it is likely to be early next year.

Because of party rules, Mr Ellis declined to speak with the Southern Riverina News about his specific intentions when contacted.

Ms Ley also said she did not comment on party matters.

The Southern Riverina News has, however, been able to view a letter sent by Mr Ellis seeking references as part of his application.

Having relocated to the Deniliquin area almost two years ago, Mr Ellis said he has a ‘‘self interest’’ in seeing this part of the electorate thrive.

The 29 year-old said he had a background in policy, politics and in public relations and media consulting that would be useful if he is successful in being put forward as the Liberal candidate.

He says one of the topics he would champion, if elected, is the approach to productive water by successive governments.

‘‘The narrative has to change. When I started working for (Senator) Matt Canavan — in mining country in Queensland — polling showed eight per cent of people supported coal,’’ Mr Ellis said.

‘‘Because of the way he stands up for his communities, that figure was 68 per cent by the time I left there.

‘‘The water issue is this region’s coal. I wouldn’t be talking to the locals about the situation because they already know; I would take it to the cities and tell them what’s happening.

‘‘We need to be telling people how much Australia is missing out on because of the way we treat this very valuable, sustainable and usually reliable resource.’’

Mr Ellis worked for Senator Canavan — who is The Nationals Senator for Queensland and Minister for Resources and Northern Australia — from 2016 to 2018.

He said his own political interest is very much styled on Senator Canavan’s approach to politics.

‘‘Matt doesn’t always worry about the party line if it’s what’s best for his constituents.

‘‘Matt is definitely my mentor when it comes to politics. But I understand how Canberra works, I am reasonably connected in the party and I would work pretty hard to get people across to this community’s way of thinking.’’

Senator Canavan is not the only senior politician Mr Ellis has worked with.

His first real involvement in politics was working for now NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet, from 2012 to 2015.

After a break from politics to work in an accountancy firm, he went to work for Senator Canavan. For a brief time during this period, because of questions regarding Senator Canavan’s citizenship and Italian heritage status, Mr Ellis was transferred to the office of Barnaby Joyce.

He’s also worked for federal Member for Deakin Michael Sukkar and federal Minister for Planning Anthony Roberts before establishing his own public relations and campaign consultancy firm.It was around the same time that Mr Ellis accepted invites from Moama-based friends to check out the Deniliquin district.

He and his wife Cecile were tiring of the Sydney lifestyle, and fell in love with the area. They settled on a property of the Bullatale Creek, where they are now raising their six month-old son Louis locally. The rest of tier families are expected to join them in the area.

Liberal Party sources suggest Mr Ellis could get the numbers to win pre-selection for Farrer if a vote was to occur sooner rather than later.

However, media reports from earlier this year suggest Prime Minister Scott Morrison would be prepared to use federal intervention powers to protect sitting members if required.

The same reports suggest ‘‘powerbrokers’’ would trying to pressure challengers to withdraw their nominations against sitting MPs.

While Ms Ley soundly reclaimed Farrer at the 2019 election, the overall results showed a swing against her of more than seven per cent.Mr Mack was by far her greatest threat, but on a two party preferred basis she was well ahead with 60.94 per cent of the vote compared to Mr Mack’s 39.06 per cent