The woman pre-selected by the LNP to run in the seat of Currumbin has rejected claims she’s a “blow-in” and was only chosen because she’s “a skirt”.
Lawyer Laura Gerber was chosen by party bosses to stand in the by-election following the retirement of Jann Stuckey who is battling depression.
Her pre-selection has angered local branch members who were denied a say.
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Ms Stuckey today broke her silence, speaking publicly for the first time since her retirement announcement.
She said she felt sorry for Ms Gerber, claiming the party simply wanted a woman to contest the seat and claimed that Currumbin locals don’t like “blow-ins”.
“I don’t think she knows what she’s in for,” Ms Stuckey told Radio 4BC.
“The other thing I was hearing from colleagues was ‘they want a skirt Jann, they want a skirt, any skirt will do.'”
Ms Stuckey had publicly backed lawyer Chris Crawford to replace her but he was rejected by party bosses.
Ms Gerber insists she is the best person to run in the seat, and wasn’t parachuted in.
“I did go through a pre-selection process, I was vetted, I put in my application form and it was in before Jann Stuckey announced her resignation and I went through the full vetting process,” Ms Gerber told reporters.
She’s also adamant she’s a proud Gold Coaster, rejecting claims she only moved to the area in the last few months.
“We moved down in January so my daughter could start school where I live, January last year.
“I”m a local girl, I grew up in Terranora, I had my first job as a lawyer in Coolangatta, this is my home and I hope it will be my children’s home for a very long time to come.”
However she admits she only attended her first LNP branch meeting last night when she was introduced to members as the party’s candidate.
LNP Leader Deb Frecklington says the party has chosen the right candidate.
“What we need to focus on here is the best person who has been through the rigorous party process, that person is standing right here beside me,” Ms Frecklington said.
“Now I understand and appreciate that some people may be disappointed that their preferred candidate wasn’t successful.
“Those are issues that are best left in the past because I can tell you now as you walking up the street in Currumbin the people are more concerned about their local issues.”
Ms Frecklington also attempted to play down Ms Stuckey’s claims that she was subjected to bullying and vilification by LNP members because of her support for a bill to decriminalise abortion.
“I’m very conscious that Jann has just recently announced her retirement outlining her struggles with mental health issues and I’m very, very conscious of not making a bigger issue out of this because we need to think about Jann.
“In relation to the issue Jann was speaking about today, it was a highly emotive issue, a very sensitive issue and one which I granted, the party room granted everyone with a conscious vote.
“Now it’s on public record that not only did I publicly back all of my members in their right for a conscious vote, I publicly backed them with their vote.
“And more than that, Ms Stuckey would still be the candidate if she chose not to retire and Jann knows that she had that support.”
Ms Gerber said she had yet to speak to Ms Stuckey but would reach out to her.
“I really hope to be able to talk to her but I haven’t had the opportunity yet.
“I want to follow in her footsteps, I want to continue her good work, she’s done amazing things for Currumbin and I really hope to be able to continue that.”