WHILE some might question Barnaby Joyce’s choice to put one of his biggest rivals, Armidale-based independent Rob Taber, second on his how-to-vote cards, the former MP and Nationals’ candidate has a simple rationale.
“I put Taber second because he’s a genuine candidate,” Mr Joyce said.
In fact, rather than preferencing Labor candidate David Ewings last, Mr Joyce has preferenced him in the middle of the pack at 9th, simply because Mr Ewings is a local candidate.
Mr Joyce said the field of 17 candidates, nine of whom live outside the electorate, was “annoying” and turning “the whole thing into a farce”.
“They’re trying to turn the whole show into a circus,” he said.
“All these other people, you say where are you from? ‘I’m from Western Australia’ – well, you’re not even the right state.
“Where are you from Mr Meow Meow? Out of what tree do these people fall?”
Mr Joyce said if the candidates “believed in this electorate, [they’d] come and live here”.
“Don’t play us for fools,” he said. “What they’re doing is a lot of people are turning up, hoping to get their 4 per cent [of the first preference vote] and their $2.40 per vote.
“It never goes back to a party, or a party organisation, it just goes into their pocket.”
Mr Joyce and his campaign team have made the controversial decision not to attend any public forums or debates, due to the number of “out-of-towner” candidates. Tamworth Business Chamber cancelled its meet the candidates forum after Mr Joyce’s announcement, citing a lack of interest from the public and other candidates after the front runner pulled out.
“Going to these forums means I give Mr Meow-Meow a platform,” Mr Joyce said.
“I’m not going to give some person who’s making a whole joke of the situation some validation. We’re getting around all the towns, doing the work and taking this all very seriously.”
Labor, CountryMinded and the Seniors United Party have all hit out against Mr Joyce’s decision.
“Barnaby Joyce is just not interested and it backs up what I’ve been saying right from the word go, that Barnaby Joyce takes this electorate for granted,” Labor candidate David Ewings said.
“If Joyce believes he is the best candidate for the seat of New England then he should have no reason to hide,” CountryMinded’s Pete Mailler said.