DESPITE promising millions for the region at the last election just over a year ago, Barnaby Joyce says he’s got more funding announcements up his sleeve.
The campaign is less than a week old, but Mr Joyce has already found his catch-cry: “Stay humble and work hard”.
“I won’t presume anybody’s vote, I’ll work for it,” Mr Joyce told The Leader, as he hit the Tamworth Regional Livestock Exchange on Monday morning to rub shoulders with local farmers.
“I’ve got a couple of things up my sleeve. We’ll announce them during the campaign and they’ll be good things.
“Of course we’ll be driving forward with the other issues that we’ve already announced. What that shows is authenticity. It’s not about a campaign, we’ve been delivering all the way through.”
The five-week campaign will be longest period of time Mr Joyce has spent in the electorate in years – even during the 2016 election, he was out of the region campaigning with other politicians.
He’s looking forward to devoting his attention solely to New England, without the distraction of leadership.
“People think I’m joking, but it’s great,” Mr Joyce said.
“I love waking up and not doing the leadership call, not doing a whole range of other things. They’re important and if you’re given that opportunity, you’ve got to take it, because you’ve got an obligation to your nation.
“But for 30 plus days, I get a chance to just be around home. Why would I complain about that?”
With the High Court ruling Mr Joyce was illegible to stand in parliament, Labor says there are legal questions surrounding any decisions he made as a minister.
The party has threatened to challenge those decisions before the courts, which Mr Joyce said showed how out of touch Labor was with rural and regional Australia.
“All the things they’re going to challenge are things that help our area – APVMA to Armidale, the funding for Dungowan dam, the Building Better Regions Fund that’s supporting the Northern Inland Centre of Sporting Excellent,” Mr Joyce said.
While he’s not privy to the inner workings of Cabinet, he’s not entirely out of the loop.
“I’ve already had two conversations with [Prime Minister] Malcolm Turnbull this morning,” he said.