NSW Opposition Leader Barry O’Farrell has thrown his weight behind the choice of 41-year-old solicitor Victor Dominello to be Liberal candidate in the Ryde by-election on October 18.

In political terms, it is massively important for O’Farrell that he has made the correct choice and that Dominello performs so well that he brings Ryde back into Liberal hands. At the very least he has to slash Labor’s 10% margin to 1 % or 2%.

Dominello, a former councillor on Ryde Council for eight years, only re-joined the Liberal Party 12 days ago to take part in the pre-selection and is returning to live in the family home at Ryde to conduct his campaign.

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He beat Hunters Hill councillor Richard Quinn 22-17 and three other candidates to grab the pre-selection to contest the vacancy created by the resignation of Deputy Premier and Transport Minister John Watkins.

Watkins won the seat in 1995 from the Liberals and then turned it into his own private political Alamo in John Howard country on Sydney’s lower north shore.

Dominello is the head of the litigation division at Etheringtons Solicitors in North Sydney. A Sydney University graduate, he was admitted to practice in 1991, joined Etheringtons in 1994 and became partner in 2000.

The firm’s website says he has acted “in several significant and complex disputes in a broad field of practice” and refers to the “highly publicised” Fraudulent Electoral Inquiries and Airforce Sexual Discrimination cases in the mid-1990s.

Not mentioned, however, were his legal skills on behalf of three piggery workers who sued for unfair dismissal. The 1995 action was brought against Brown and Hatton, the Upper Hunter Valley pig farm owned by colorful businessman Con (The Golden Greek) Constantinidis and former prime minister Paul Keating.

Dominello also represented Kristine Frost, a staff member from the electorate office of former Labor MP for Auburn, Peter Nagle, when she took legal action against her employer, the Speaker of the NSW Parliament.

He instructed barrister Alex Howan, a former vice president of the NSW Liberal Party, who was struck off earlier this month after falling into bankruptcy.

His website also discloses; “Other notable successes have included a complex defamation action in Megna v Marshall (2004) in the NSW Supreme Court where a rare personal search warrant known as an ‘Anton Pillar order’ was successfully obtained and subsequent contempt orders were made against an opponent.”

This is a reference to an action brought by high-profile Canada Bay Liberal councillor Michael Megna who was returned at the council elections on September 13.

Labor’s nominations closed at midday today with Ryde councillor Nicole Campbell expected to get the nod from head office.

She stood against Howard at the 2001 and 2004 federal elections but she will be hurt by the wave of anti-Labor sentiment sweeping the NSW electorate.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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