NATIONALS Senator Barnaby Joyce says he won’t doubt the integrity of Richard Torbay until proven otherwise but would “absolutely” consider throwing his hat into the ring in the battle for the seat of New England.
Last night Senator Joyce said the decision as to whether he would be a candidate for the electorate’s top job was up to the electorate council.
While he did not know the details of Mr Torbay’s resignation, he said he had never had any reason to doubt the member for the Northern Tablelands.
“Until someone tells me why, I still don’t (doubt his integrity),” Mr Joyce said. “I will give Mr Torbay the absolute benefit of any doubt.”
With the Nationals candidacy for the seat of New England left wide open with six months to go until election day, Senator Joyce said he had always been “ consistent” in declaring his interest for the seat.
“I live in Maranoa and I grew up in New England. There’s only two places where you can be in the lower house: where you live and where you grew up,” he said. “These decisions are always for the people of New England and for the electorate council.
“I believe absolutely that the New England electorate needs a representation that’s going to take them to the centre of business in a future Coalition government.
“I’ve always been guided by the people in the New England electorate. You cant unilaterally take yourself to the wedding, you need another party to go with you.
“At the last pre-selection I was informed Mr Torbay had an interest and it was quite obvious he was a very popular member of parliament for the Northern Tablelands and it was quite obvious he would be a good candidate.
“I’ve put myself out there for consideration of the electorate council and it’s up to them. In the game of politics you are the servant, not the lord.”
Barnaby Joyce at the Senate doors this morning
Senator John Williams of Inverell said members were called into the office of Nationals Leader Warren Truss about 7pm where he announced Mr Torbay’s resignation, however, there was no explanation why.
“I was shocked, totally shocked,” Senator Williams said.
He received a text message from NSW National Party director Ben Franklin after 8pm telling him Mr Torbay had resigned and there would be no further comment on the matter.