Larry Anthony.
Larry Anthony.

Anthony seeks Nationals top spot

FORMER Howard government minister Larry Anthony will seek the presidency of the Nationals at the party's federal conference in Canberra this weekend.

Mr Anthony will stand down as the party's senior vice-president to seek the job.

Nationals NSW president Christine Ferguson is the only other candidate for the federal presidency, which is being vacated by John Tanner.

Mr Anthony became the third generation of his family to represent the seat of Richmond in northern New South Wales when he won at his second attempt ion 1996.

He held the seat until 2004 when he lost the seat to Labor's Justine Elliot.

Mr Anthony was unavailable for comment when contacted by APN.

The Nationals' three-day conference begins on Friday night with a welcome reception.

On Saturday, delegates from around the country will hear from a number of speakers, most notably federal parliamentary leader Warren Truss and Queensland Premier Campbell Newman, fresh from delivering his first budget.

Another address of interest will be that of Hancock Prospecting executive director Tad Watroba. Queensland Coal Investments, a subsidiary of Hancock, is a major sponsor of the conference.

The conference will wrap up on Sunday, with the highlight expected to be a speech from Queensland Senator Barnaby Joyce.

There are 72 motions due to be debated, beginning on Saturday, across a range of policy areas.

A motion sure to generate plenty of spirited debate calls on the Nationals to "strengthen Australia's foreign investment regime".

The measures spelt out in the motion to achieve this aim are the same as the recommendations contained in the Coalition's discussion paper on foreign investment, which was unveiled in July.

Foreign investment has long been an issue of concern for the Nationals and a cause for tension within the Coalition.

Treasurer Wayne Swan's decision to approve the potential sale of Queensland's Cubbie Station brought those internal divisions to the fore in recent weeks.