Tag Archives: new england

Gutless Wonders

26 Jun


BREAKING UPDATE: Tony Windsor too. Good news for Barnaby. More below.

From the Australian:

FEDERAL independent MP Rob Oakeshott, whose crucial support helped Labor form the minority government after the 2010 election, has announced he is quitting politics.

The federal member for Lyne has told his local newspaper he will not contest the September 14 election, saying he wants to spend more time with his family and had achieved his goals in parliament.

“Now is the moment,” he told the Macleay Argus.

“I have done everything I said I was going to do and done the best I can.”

Mr Oakeshott, who held the NSW north-coast seat of Lyne for five years, denied his decision was prompted by fear of losing at the upcoming federal election.



From the Australian:

THE two independents who backed Julia Gillard personally to form a minority Labor government – Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott – are bowing out of politics.

Congratulations BJ.

Presumably you’re now a shoe-in to win New England.

“Sympathy Does Not Vote These Days”

21 Jun

Barnaby Joyce writes for the Canberra Times:

With merely one week to go in this Parliament, a party based on politicians from the school of union organisation cannot organise the numbers either to effect a change in leadership or to dispel the prospect of one. In the final fortnight we have had a rolling Labor soap opera, which will do little to endear Australia to the party’s management potential.

It is as if the Labor Party has frozen in the headlights of the nation’s gaze, unable to extricate itself from either the Gillard-inspired coup or the relentless Rudd retaliation. The result is a bitter, personal feud that has festered into a full-blown brawl.

Three years ago Paul Howes, the head of the Australian Workers Union, decided that he was ”the Australian voting public” and he went out and unelected the elected Prime Minister on Lateline. A few months later he said ”it was probably an error”. Just then, Paul ”The Australian Voting Public” Howes popped up on Sky News to tell the Australian people that his Prime Minister must stay there.

I have come to the conclusion that instead of voting for the Prime Minister, I should be voting for whatever office Paul Howes occupies. The problem I have got is that this ballot is stacked. Now this is starting to sound like a Joseph Conrad novel; it’s certainly not the Australia that Mum and Dad told me about.

This week brings the shortest day of the year for the lowest ebb in our Parliament, and from here we head to spring, where we’ll see a new Parliament, new members, regrets and recriminations. The batting order is going to change and the tenants of the parliamentary offices will be shuffled and dealt. The next week is going to be crucial for Labor.

It will be certain political decimation to stay the course and the reality of the Queensland and NSW elections will be the fate of federal Labor if they cannot break out into adulthood in the next month. If you grasp for the bitter end, it is bitter; sympathy does not vote these days. It is like expecting greater attention from students five minutes before the end of school.

Read the whole article here.

Underdog Barnaby Closing In On Windsor

21 May

From the Northern Leader:

HITTING THE ROAD: Nationals candidate for New England Barnaby Joyce has forums in 29 towns and villages over the next three weeks. SOURCE: The Northern Daily Leader

HITTING THE ROAD: Nationals candidate for New England Barnaby Joyce has forums in 29 towns and villages over the next three weeks. SOURCE: The Northern Daily Leader

NEW England Nationals candidate Barnaby Joyce accepts he’s the underdog but he doesn’t think he’s as far behind sitting MP Tony Windsor as the latest poll suggests.

It was no surprise he was the underdog, Senator Joyce said, but he disputes just what the voters might read into the latest poll.

“I went into this fight behind … but I’m closing in,” he forecast as he prepared to tackle a six-week whistle-stop talking tour of the electorate.

He questioned the results of a poll published in The Leader yesterday from its sister publication, The Australian Financial Review, that indicated the independent MP held a 10-point lead over The Nationals deputy leader.

Senator Joyce said he believed he was much closer than what the poll showed – ranking Mr Windsor with 49 per cent of the primary vote against Senator Joyce’s 38 per cent.

He didn’t doubt the numbers but he did question the transparency of the motives behind the poll – who did it, what questions were asked, what the sample size was, and the demographic split.

“I would question whether it’s a reflection of the electorate, the way the questions were asked to determine the outcome,” he said.

The story reported that the polling was done by the resources industry to gauge how real were the concerns about coal seam gas, water and coal mining – and according to the results the resources issues ranked way below priorities like jobs and employment, the economy, cost of living and health and education issues.

Senator Joyce predicts those issues will be among the questions raised in his electorate forums, which begin at Mullaley tomorrow with an afternoon appearance in the Mullaley hall.

From there he will take a swing through the far flung reaches of an electorate that is nearly 60,000 square kilometres in size and extends nearly 400km from south of Nundle to the Queensland border and is about 280km wide.

There are about 56 towns, villages and localities – and Senator Joyce has 29 of them in his sights for stopovers.

“I want to get to all the corners, the little towns that get forgotten, like Ebor,” he said.

Mr Windsor has held the seat of New England since 2001 with a margin of 21.52 per cent – the 10th safest seat in the parliament.

But this time around Senator Joyce believes that while he’s behind, he’s not too far behind and certainly not 10 percentage points.

He thinks there’s a huge 30 per cent of undecided voters out there going inside the four months before the election.

How they decide to vote will be crucial to his chances of toppling Mr Windsor and he muses that while Tony Windsor’s campaign might be based on his loyalty and his length of service to his electorate, his premise is for the future, and a place close to the centre of the action in a future government.

He also expects to get an inkling of the feelings of supporters and the great undecided when he hits the forum track tomorrow.

He expects some torrid, tough questions.

“Ready To Jump Off A Cliff For Principles” – Barnaby

19 Apr

Senator Joyce writes for the Canberra Times:

Life in politics is punctuated with major challenges that throw into question the authenticity of your political mettle if you avoid them, but if you accept could cost you your political career if you fail.

The unfortunate circumstances that surround Richard Torbay have placed me in a position in which I take the risk against the Green-Labor-independent alliance member in New England, Tony Windsor.

This is a risk that, if it comes off the rails, will be curtains for me. Mr Windsor has 71 per cent of the two-party preferred vote, has been in politics for over 20 years in the district and no one in the history of our nation has ever successfully gone from the Senate in one state to a lower-house seat in another. It will be a risk that many may call excessive, including my children and staff.

At least I do not have to argue over the underdog status. This is a risk that should be taken, however, if as a Coalition we truly believe that this Labor-Green-independent anarchy standing in proxy for a government is beyond just bad, and is dangerous to the future of our nation.

It is beyond bad when our defence spending is as low as it has been as a percentage of GDP since 1938. It is beyond bad when our debt is now bigger than all the deficits in our nation’s history, before this government came to power, added one on top of the other. It is beyond bad when we have brought in a broad-based consumption tax on power so that many cannot afford heating this winter whilst the Government palms it off as an environmental “carbon tax”. It is beyond bad when overnight we go to our largest neighbour, Indonesia, and basically accuse them of barbarism as we shut down the live cattle trade, forcing down the price of one of our largest agricultural exports in the process.

At many times of any life we are challenged to make a statement of commitment to an ethos over security in our current position. While politics is not the hardest venue to deal with this dilemma, the consequences of failure are dire nonetheless.

New England is a good reflection of the nation with a commercial hub in Tamworth, education in Armidale and an agricultural hinterland providing the economic underpinning of the area. The issues cover law and order in the city to a fair return at the farm gate on the land. The people of this area, like most Australians, also carry a strong sense of national purpose and are concerned about the debt, defence, and ownership of our sovereign asset, our land.

They have me very aware of one issue in this political contest; they do not want a personal catfight. They are over the pointless name-calling of previous national and local campaigns; it leaves them with a bad taste in their mouth, mimics the insults that they encounter on the streets and shows no vision of where the area is going. So, talk to the philosophy of your beliefs, explain the policies that encompass those beliefs, flesh out any inconsistencies in your opponent, but do not impugn the character of your opponent.

The greatest issue for my opponent appears to be the obvious. When he supported the Greens and Labor in a new tripartite government with the independents, he inherently stopped being independent. They felt as if he had driven them past their political church and was forcing them to worship at a different religion. Philosophy runs deeper than one may think but is sometimes only recognised when confronted.

The current polling would suggest that the Coalition is very likely going to win the next election, though certainty and politics are precarious bedfellows. If the Coalition does win, a Green-Labor- independent member of the opposition will be a lonely old job. Trying to be properly heard for the protection of funding streams and services in the New England will require real diplomacy but Mr Windsor has made certain personal comments, such as those about his negotiations with Mr Abbott, which will not assist in this process.

Anyway, the electorate of New England is alive to all these issues and the media is salivating at the prospect of a class one political stoush. Democracy is a wonderful right and if nothing else the theatre of the political contest will be memorable.

Barnaby: The Man Who Made His Name By Voting With His Conscience

13 Apr

Cross-posted from The Australian today:


WITH wife Natalie by his side, Barnaby Joyce will take a deep breath today and leap off the political cliff that is their New England.

It will complete his audacious journey from outsider to contender for the leadership of the Nationals and the second-most powerful job in the land.

Barring an upset of epic proportions, the man who made his name by crossing the floor of the Senate* to vote with his conscience, who swore that the trappings of high office would never be for him, will be preselected to run for the lower house of parliament, in a new state, against the MP who was instrumental in forging the “new paradigm” of minority government with the Labor Party. This is all or bust for Senator Joyce, 45, the opposition spokesman on regional development, local government and water, and leader of the Nationals in the Senate.

Assuming he is preselected, he will resign from the Senate by the time writs are issued for the September 14 election, midway through his six-year term.

If he goes on to win the seat of New England for the Nationals, and the Coalition comes up trumps in the general poll, Barnaby Joyce MP will be a mover and shaker in Tony Abbott’s new government, a leader in waiting for his party and potential deputy prime minister.

Yes, it’s a lot to get the head around. But so is the progress of the once-maverick Senator Joyce, as his life and career turn full circle to where it all began for him, on the northern tablelands of NSW. He was born in New England, was schooled there, played rugby for the district and wooed his wife, believing that his future lay in farming the land, not running the country.

It’s the place he left in 1994 to start over in Queensland after his parents demanded that he make the impossible choice between them and the woman he loved.

And it’s where his anticipated struggle with the powerfully entrenched independent Tony Windsor, buttressed by what should be an impregnable margin of 21 per cent, will be one of the most keenly watched match-ups when Australians go to the polls next spring.

“This is where I’m from,” Senator Joyce says, as he noses through the evening traffic in Tamworth in his dusty Land Cruiser, with Natalie and their 13-year-old daughter, Caroline, in the back fiddling with an iPod.

“I was born in the hospital here, Nat was born in the hospital here, Caroline was born in the hospital here and our three other girls were born here. Our parents live in the electorate. What more can I say?”

If he is labouring the point, it is because it’s sensitive. The battle lines have already been drawn in his anticipated head-to-head against Mr Windsor, with the four-term federal MP branding the Nationals man as “second-choice Joyce”, a dig at his past interest in the bush seat of Maranoa in southwest Queensland, as well as the sacking by the Nationals of their original candidate for New England, Richard Torbay.

Senator Joyce is acutely aware that his local connections are under scrutiny. But if Mr Windsor was trying to suggest he was some sort of “blow-in”, then, Senator Joyce retorted, he had better explain why he “sold out” his conservative-leaning electorate and backed Julia Gillard to retain power after the inconclusive 2010 election.

“I’m not saying it’s going to be a walk in the park – I’m not naive,” Senator Joyce said of the challenge of winning back what was once a crown jewel for the Nationals. “This is going to be incredibly hard and I think if Tony hadn’t supported … the Green-Labor Party-independents alliance then it would be a suicide mission.

“But he did … every day he has been there, he has kept them there, in power. Every decision of this government he must stand behind because it is a government he is part of.”

Despite a personal approach from The Weekend Australian and follow-up calls to his office, Mr Windsor did not make himself available to be interviewed. He crossed paths fleetingly with Senator Joyce on Wednesday, in full campaign mode, at a regional development forum in Armidale. They shook hands and exchanged a brief, seemingly cordial word.

First order of business for Senator Joyce is today’s preselection at West Tamworth Leagues Club, in the heart of the state seat Mr Windsor represented before jumping to federal parliament in 2001 at the expense of the Nationals.

Up to 150 branch members are expected to vote. The only other candidate, software entrepreneur David Gregory, 34, said he would like to think the result would be close “but, seriously, I’ve got no idea what the numbers are”.

Unabashed, Senator Joyce insisted the endorsement was in the bag. “I think faux modesty is conceit, so I’m not going to say it’s going to be tight,” he said. “I will win the preselection.”

The circumstances in which he and Natalie left New England all those years ago are a poignant but little-known counterpoint to the high-stakes politics. The couple met at university in Armidale, the other population centre in the electorate. She was studying arts while up-for-a-beer Joycie fitted his accountancy course around rugby commitments. First impressions didn’t work for her.

When he asked her out by the fountain outside the Armidale Ex-Services Club, where they pitched up together on Wednesday, she thought she would give him a chance. “I’ve been following him around for years and there is no point stopping now,” Natalie, now 43, explained.

Her family lived near the town of Manilla, north of Tamworth. Young Barnaby hailed from Danglemah, on the range east of the town. For him, university was a “last hurrah” before he settled down to working full-time on his parents’ property. When they realised that marriage was on the cards, they gave him an ultimatum: it was the farm or Natalie.

(In 2005, the newly elected Senator Joyce told this reporter that his parents were worried about what would happen if the couple divorced and carved up the property.)

It didn’t take him long to make the decision, estranging him from his parents. In 1994, he landed a job with the then Queensland Industry Development Corporation to run its branch in St George, which became the couple’s new home, 550km west of Brisbane.

The arrival of their four girls eventually thawed relations, but it took years. The subject is still touchy for the reunited family. Natalie politely closed down the discussion, saying: “We are way past that … things are good.”

Her husband agreed. “Things are better, and that’s where you like to live.”

Defeating Mr Windsor – assuming he recontests the seat, which, as local journalists point out, he is yet to confirm – will be the biggest challenge of Senator Joyce’s career.

In 2010, Mr Windsor increased his base vote by five percentage points, gaining 62 per cent of the primary count and an astonishing 71.5 per cent after preferences.

But his unwavering support for the Prime Minister has hit his local standing. An automated poll by ReachTEL last August had Mr Windsor badly trailing Mr Torbay, the former state independent MP and mayor of Armidale, who is now under investigation by the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption, amid reports that he accepted $50,000 from the Obeid family, a claim this week rejected by patriarch and former Labor powerbroker Eddie Obeid.

Internal polling conducted by the Nationals before Mr Torbay’s stunning exit last month also put him ahead of Mr Windsor, but by a margin of less than five points, The Weekend Australian understands.

Armidale Mayor Jim Maher, a former lecturer in politics at the University of New England, believes the uproar over Mr Torbay will favour Mr Windsor. Dr Maher tipped Mr Windsor to take the seat in 2001, and believes he will hold out against Senator Joyce’s star power. The non-aligned Mayor of Tamworth, Col Murray, agrees.

Senator Joyce accepts that he is taking a heavy risk in taking on Mr Windsor, 62. There is no plan B if he loses; the Queensland Liberal National Party would have already filled the casual Senate vacancy, and there was no question that he could or would be reinstated.

“I think I will be in a world of trouble if I don’t get up here,” Senator Joyce said.

Typically, he professed to have no second thoughts about the move. Staying in the Senate was not an option.

“One would presume on the current polling that the Coalition will win the election, in which case I can see very quickly that if I stayed in the Senate I would get pushed into a position where I have … to cross the floor, because that’s what a senator’s supposed to do,” he said.

If he does win New England, restoring to the Nationals a seat that was held by one-time party leader and Fraser government minister Ian Sinclair for 35 years, Senator Joyce has pledged he will never challenge his leader, Warren Truss, despite Mr Truss’s relatively low public profile.

“I’ve had these discussions with Warren and what I’ve said to Warren, I’ll say to you: as long as he is there, I will back him,” Senator Joyce said.

“He’s a good bloke doing a good job and I understand when people say they see more of me in the media, and that’s fine, but that’s not what blows Warren’s hair back.”

He would not be drawn on speculation that Mr Truss, 64, would be prepared to stand aside for him after a term as deputy prime minister if the Coalition won the election.

For my part, the Big Question is this.

Has nearly eight years spent swimming in the steaming, fetid cesspool of Australian politics seared Barnaby’s conscience … or will he again vote according to the supreme sovereignty of Conscience, in the CFZ of the lower house of Parliament?

* Barnaby crossed the floor 19 times from July 2005 through to the end of the Howard government era in 2007.

UPDATE: Barnaby wins preselection to contest the seat of New England –

Senator Joyce acknowledged running for New England would be a risk for his political career.

“Why do I take a risk of my career in New England?” Senator Joyce said.

“Because we’ve got to do something about this.

“We all know that the country just cannot go on like this – it’s got to turn around.”

Barnaby On Fire

7 Sep

Is Barnaby going to the Lower House … via Tony Windsor’s seat?

The msm love to think so:

Queensland Nationals senator Barnaby Joyce has given another hint he’s contemplating running for the federal seat of New England in NSW, currently held by independent MP Tony Windsor.

Senator Joyce on Tuesday described Mr Windsor as “the most able lieutenant of the Labor Party”.

New England was a conservative seat and its voters expected a conservative representative, Senator Joyce said.

“At times they believed that Mr Windsor was going to be more conservative than the conservatives, (but) where he ended up was more left than the left,” the opposition’s regional development spokesman told reporters in Canberra.

“That’s something that’s just not going to fly in New England.

“It’s the same as if someone in the Port of Melbourne decided they were in the National Party – it’d be a very brief experience.”

When asked if he was still considering running for Mr Windsor’s seat at the next election Senator Joyce replied: “I’m not thinking about running in the Port of Melbourne.”

Read into that what you will … the msm certainly are.

For mine, yet another hilarious Joyceism is the real highlight of this story:

The outspoken Queenslander also weighed into the debate over the Labor leadership on Tuesday, saying the government didn’t seem to have its mind on the game.

“Who they stick out the front as their figurehead is really irrelevant. It’s the mangled carving on the front of a sinking boat. Who cares?”

Want more?

Here’s Barnaby on 2GB radio telling it like it is. As usual.


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