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Luke Costin

Woman minister's bid for safe seat fails

NSW minister Natalie Ward sought unsuccessfully to move from the upper house to run for Davidson. (Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS) (AAP)

The NSW premier has invoked a taco ad's tagline to defend the snubbing of Roads Minister Natalie Ward after she failed to move into the Liberal Party's safest seat.

Ms Ward, an upper house MP and one of three Liberal women in cabinet, lost a preselection contest on Monday night for the seat of Davidson to former premier Mike Baird' s ex-staffer Matt Cross.

It's another blow to the Liberal Party's attempt to increase the number of women in the lower house from seven of its 33 members.

Premier Dominic Perrottet said Ms Ward remained a "leading light" in the party and would continue to be a strong contributor in the upper house.

She had faced another strong candidate in Mr Cross, a Harvard graduate, he said.

"As they say in the Old El Paso ads, porque no los dos? Why not both?" the premier told reporters.

"That's exactly what we have.

"Natalie is a leading light, she's a future leader of the Liberal Party and she will continue to make a strong contribution."

Davidson, covering parts of Sydney's north shore and northern beaches, is held by the Liberals with a margin of more than 25 per cent.

Sitting member and lower house speaker Jonathan O'Dea announced in September he would step down at the March election.

Ms Ward doesn't face re-election to the upper house until 2025, having faced election in 2019.

Her failed move to the lower house follows the preselection loss last Thursday of three-term MP Melanie Gibbons.

The member for Holsworthy lost out to challenger former deputy mayor and school teacher Tina Ayyad.

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