ACT Labor considered Kristina Keneally for new seat

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Labor staffer Jacob Ingram, from LinkedIn

Labor staffer Jacob Ingram, from LinkedIn

ACT Labor players have talked up former NSW premier Kristina Keneally as a potential star candidate for Canberra's new third federal seat, a plan complicated by her run in the surprise Bennelong by-election.

The former NSW premier was preparing to move to Canberra in early 2018 to present a daily Sky News program from Parliament House - but was named by Labor this month to challenge NSW Liberal John Alexander, in the contest sparked by revelations the tennis champion was a dual citizen.

The creation of a third federal electorate in the ACT before the next election is expected to spark a heated factional fight within Labor.

Party members canvassed recruiting a high profile candidate like Ms Keneally, viewed as having the potential to clear the field in the same way as Katy Gallagher in her 2015 move to the Senate.

Party members say a candidate from the powerful left faction or someone able to rally support from significant numbers of right or unaligned members will likely win the contest, though no group has a lock on votes.

A deal between the left and right could also take place.

Ms Keneally's Sky News program To the Point and her other appearances were suspended when she announced her run in Bennelong.

She is on leave without pay from the Murdoch-owned network, pending the result of December 16 vote.

Mr Alexander held the northern Sydney seat with a 9.7 per cent margin but polls show the race is tight.

Some Labor left members see their claim to the new seat as strongest, with the unaligned Andrew Leigh and right faction member Gai Brodtmann holding the two existing lower house seats.

Labor's affirmative action rules, requiring seats to be divided between men and women, suggest a man could be picked or a wider shake up could result.

A spokeswoman for Ms Keneally's campaign would not answer questions about a possible run in the new seat on Friday, saying she was focused on defeating Mr Alexander.

On Monday the Australian Electoral Commission will publish the first proposals for the names and boundaries of the three seats, with the redistribution expected to be completed by July.

Thomas McMahon, a economic adviser to Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, has been mentioned by party members.

Other possible contenders include Taimus Werner-Gibbings, a Legislative Assembly candidate in 2016 and chief of staff to Labor senator Lisa Singh.

The 36-year-old Gowrie resident is factionally unaligned and currently testing support with party colleagues.

Labor's Mt Ainslie branch president Jacob Ingram, a staffer for Chief Minister Andrew Barr, is also reportedly considering contesting the preselection.

The 23-year-old is a member of the right faction and works as a community liaison adviser.

Former adviser to Labor prime minister Julia Gillard and Australian Republican Movement chief executive Michael Cooney is an unlikely starter for preselection.

Mr Cooney was reportedly pushed out of preselection in 2010 by former prime minister Kevin Rudd.

Last week, The Canberra Times reported Jacob White, a staffer for Dr Leigh and organiser of Australian Marriage Equality's ACT campaign, could stand.

Communications consultant and 2016 ACT election candidate Kim Fischer could also put her name forward for the seat.

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This story ACT Labor considered Kristina Keneally for new seat first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.