‘I have absolutely no respect for him as an individual’

PEOPLE have been asking me about the comments I made concerning National Party candidate Richard Torbay at my public meeting in Tamworth, which have only partially been reported. For the sake of clarity and context, I would like to set the record straight.

I told the audience that “I respect Richard Torbay’s right to run and I wish him well in terms of running. I have great admiration for his parents, I know them well, I love his wife and I have seen his kids (grow up), but I have absolutely no respect for him as an individual, and I will tell you why.

“During that 17-day period (during negotiations to form government), Richard Torbay was ringing members of the Labor Party – Tony Burke, Chris Bowen, others – acting as an agent for me. During that 17-day period I didn’t talk to Richard Torbay. I had tested him some years ago in terms of whether you can actually trust him with confidential information and he failed some years back – I had made no contact with him. He was ringing Labor people – and Torbay was telling them ‘I’ve got Windsor for you and I’m still working on Oakeshott’.” 

“Now I’m absolutely personally disgusted that someone would represent that sort of message when they haven’t been spoken to, on a critical issue like the determination of government. And what makes matters worse  – Senator Williams, the National Party, said ‘Oh, well what’s wrong with that, he was ringing us too’ – ‘Got Windsor for you and I’m still working on Oakeshott’. What an extraordinary thing to do? 

“Let me tell you a couple of other things. Up until the last election, when the O’Farrell government was elected, only a bit over a year ago, for the whole time that Richard had been a member, an independent member of the NSW Parliament, he was on the internal Labor Party computer arrangements, which they have to pay for. Been there all the time. So some people should start to ask some questions about the integrity of what’s going on here. If the National Party can’t do better than that – it’s just to get rid of me, I’m incidental– but I think it says an enormous amount about them.

“And I will tell you one other thing. And Richard will deny all this of course, and some people might like to do some investigative journalism. During the 2007 election – state election – the Labor Party sat down with Richard Torbay and he offered to do a deal before the election that if it was a hung parliament, that he would support them, Labor, and potentially bring some of the independents, this brand that he’s talking about, across with him to ensure that Labor was maintained in power in the event of a hung parliament. The quid pro quo was that he be guaranteed a ministry as Regional Development Minister. The deal was done. 

“When the election was over and the Labor Party actually won, the deal was called up and there was a degree of fuel within the Labor Caucus, which, I can understand. Hence the deal to make him the minister was taken away and the speakership was given. 

“Now someone to say that what I have done – by siding with one side of Parliament after an election – is something like the greatest sin that’s ever occurred, when we had a balanced process and made a choice based on policies.

For someone to say that that is trashing anything, is offensive. And that is why  I respect all of his family, I respect his right to stand, I respect his position as a member of Parliament, I will always do that, but I have absolutely no respect for him as an individual, for what he has actually carried on with.”

I would encourage anybody who’s interested to view the full video of the public meeting on my website: www.tonywindsor.com.au

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