VICTORIAN cabinet minister and LGBTI-rights advocate Mary Wooldridge has lost preselection for the Melbourne seat of Kew, despite the support of Premier Denis Napthine.

Wooldridge ran for preselection in the safe Liberal seat after her current electorate of Doncaster was abolished in an electoral redistribution last year. She was defeated by the young former mayor of the Stonnington Tim Smith, who ran a grassroots campaign popular with local branch members.

As Minister for Mental Health Wooldridge has supported a number of programs assisting LGBTI young people, including the No To Homophobia campaign and the HEY grants program that supports same-sex attracted and sex and gender diverse young people living in rural Victoria.

Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby co-convener Corey Irlam praised Wooldridge for her support of LGBTI issues.

“Minister Woolridge has been a staunch supporter of the No to Homophobia campaign along with a range of other LGBTI health related initiatives since coming to office,” Irlam told the Star Observer.

“We welcome the Premier’s indication he’ll be encouraging Mary Wooldridge to continue in public life as part of his cabinet. We hope that the Liberal party will find an opportunity for this to occur before November’s state election.”

Before the Kew preselection the Premier took the unprecedented step of writing to local branch members encouraging them to vote for Wooldridge, calling her “vital” to the government’s election campaign.

Following Wooldridge’s defeat Napthine said she would remain in cabinet, and he would be investigating ways to keep her in parliament.

 

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