Bega MP Andrew Constance today confirmed he will make a run for the federal seat of Eden-Monaro.
Whether or not he would contest the once bellwether seat in southern NSW has been the subject of intense speculation.
Speaking in Narooma on Tuesday, May 5, Mr Constance confirmed he would seek Liberal Party pre-selection.
The upcoming by-election for the seat was triggered when long-term MP Mike Kelly decided to step down for health reasons.
Mr Constance has said repeatedly this year he was likely to retire from politics after the stress of the bushfires on the South and Far South Coast.
He explicitly rejected a call to enter federal politics at a public gathering in Mogo in February.
Bega Valley Shire Mayor Kristy McBain has been endorsed as the Labor candidate.
Mr Constance's decision will trigger a by-election in the state seat of Bega, which stretches from Batemans Bay to the Victorian border.
Confirming his bid to run, he called for a national response to traumas such as bushfires.
:"One massive hole in recovery is the health and wellbeing of our local people," he said.
He did not want long-term repercussions translating into a mental health and depression crisis.
He called for more accountability from charities and there was a need to reflect on the national legislation regarding charities.
He said "what everyone is looking for is change". He said the electorate wanted politicians who could speak openly about their feelings.
In healing, "we must be bipartisan", he said.
People just want someone who will "give it a go".
"I am 46; I have plenty of energy, do not worry about that," he said, after being questioned about how long he intended to remain should he win the seat.
Asked about his vexed relationship with Prime Minister Scott Morrison during the bushfire emergency, he said the relationship had been repaired and Mr Morrison had personally apologised.
"People don't care about politics between Scott Morrison and Andrew Constance," he said.
Instead, he said they cared about recovery.
"There is no doubt we all learnt from the bushfires," he said.
"He (the PM) and I both share this passion about how we can improve Eden-Monaro.
"I will speak my mind, I have no hesitation."
He said the opportunity for the Far South Coast to heal from the bushfires was taken away because of COVID-19.
Mr Constance said his strong ties to the Far South Coast were underestimated.
"I am 5th generation farming family in the Monaro," he said.
"I see what drought is doing to this country.
"People just want someone who will give it a go and be honest.
"The key element for me is to do the recovery right."
Mr Constance said he was still in discussions with NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian about whether he would resign as Transport Minister.
He said he wouldn't "speculate on the future" with regard to the seat of Bega.