Parties distance themselves from ex-Liberal MP in Kiama
A veteran NSW Liberal has been thrown a lifeline and will take on Kiama MP Gareth Ward, whose vote neither major party plans to accept as he fights sexual assault charges..
Holsworthy MP Melanie Gibbons was preselected for the south coast seat, just hours before candidate nominations for the March 25 election closed at midday on Wednesday.
Mr Ward was dumped from the Liberal Party and suspended from parliament last year after being charged with sexual and indecent assault.
He denies any wrongdoing and the case remains before the courts.
The leaders of the major parties were asked during a debate on Wednesday if they would accept Mr Ward's vote in the next parliament.
Opposition Leader Chris Minns said Labor would not accept Gareth Ward's vote "under any circumstances", with Premier Dominic Perrottet agreeing "same".
Ms Gibbons' political reprieve comes after she lost preselection in her seat last year to former deputy mayor Tina Ayyad, and failed to secure a place on the party's upper house ticket.
Labor MP Penny Sharpe labelled it an "extraordinary decision ... after she was dumped by (Treasurer) Matt Kean and Dominic Perrottet".
"Voters are concerned is this really just a play to guarantee that Gareth Ward is going to be elected," she said.
Earlier, the Labor Party dodged its own unwelcome ballot box challenge, with high-profile Fairfield mayor Frank Carbone ruling out a run at state politics.
Deputy Opposition Leader Prue Car struck a diplomatic tone saying an incoming Labor government would work with the mayor, who says his seat has been neglected.
The popular independent western Sydney mayor was considering a tilt in traditional Labor territory after accusing the party of neglecting its heartland to chase votes in marginal electorates.
However, on Wednesday he said contemplating the move had been the best way to secure more funding for Fairfield City Council.
"I wanted to let my community know first that I am not contesting the state election in the seat of Cabramatta or Fairfield and I'm staying as mayor of our great city and the community I love," he said on Facebook.