The announcement by former NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian of her decision to leave politics will enable the Liberal Party to announce in the next few days its candidate in the key Sydney seat of Warringah for the coming federal election.
Liberal Party sources said although Prime Minister Scott Morrison was disappointed that Ms Berejiklian would not be the candidate, he was happy that another woman had emerged as the frontrunner to take on Independent MP Zali Stegall in the must-win seat.
“This weekend we’ll be announcing Tonya Butt has our candidate in Warringah,” a senior Liberal Party source said.
“Tonya is a fresh new face who came to our attention only in the past few days as a viable candidate.
“We’re still doing our due diligence, checking out her history just to be sure, but we reckon she’ll be the Liberal Party flagbearer in the seat.
“Tonya’s a local resident, involved in her community, and is a big fan of swimming and the beach (main picture) which is important in Warringah which has both harbourside and beachfront suburbs.
“She also enjoys long-distance bike rides and is a volunteer with the local rural fire brigade.”
The Liberal source said the due diligence process now under way had raised some issues about Ms Bott’s past that needed further exploration.
“For starters we need to talk to her to find out the details of her personal life, given that her candidate application form says she is happily married to a woman for 33 years and she and her wife have three adult daughters,” the source said.
“We’re also seeking more information from her about her boxing career during her university days.”
The source said Ms Bott had herself clarified one piece of information that had puzzled party officials on her candidate application form.
“In the box asking potential candidates what unique talents they might bring to the campaign in Warringah, Tonya wrote TWS,” the source explained.
“We couldn’t work that one out until we asked Tonya about it and she explained it stood for three-word slogans.
“She’s just about perfect for us, so far,” the source said.