HE MIXES with the rich and famous and is a self-proclaimed business tycoon, but it’s not enough for Glen Innes-born Jamie McIntyre – instead, he wants New England.
Tired of the current political landscape, the 40-year-old has set up the 21st Century Party and has plans to target dozens of seats, as well as some Senate spots, in the September federal election.
“People who don’t usually take any notice of politics are starting to wake up and get involved, because they want change,” Mr McIntyre said.
As the party leader, Mr McIntyre says the party will target independent and Labor seats first before tackling any Coalition opponents.
“It’s far easier to win and gain traction against them (Labor and the independents),” he said.
He owns a number of farms near Glen Innes, which he calls home, but the business tycoon admits he won’t be settling here fulltime ahead of the election.
“I have to travel around with my business and it’s important to be well connected and to be networking with powerful people in the city. In the same way politicians network in Canberra, I need to continue mixing in the city and outside of New England,” he said.
The 21st Century Party has some big-ticket policies it’ll take to the election agenda, including the controversial banning of cigarette sales for anyone born after 2000.
“It’s a phase-out strategy. We have massive health liabilities and we have to address that. The law would ban the sale of the deadly product to kids,” Mr McIntyre said.
It was just one of the items up for discussion on his New England tour this week, which took in public meetings at Glen Innes, Armidale and Tamworth on Wednesday night.
“We had about 35 people at the meeting in Tamworth and more in Glen Innes and Armidale,” he said.
McIntyre says he has a 16-point plan for New England to kickstart his campaign, with health and education at the top. “We need improved health services, and I want to utilise technology and put more funding into that and health education, so we start that at school for young kids. On education, our goal is to make New England a benchmark for the rest of the country. My views are clear on Gonski. It’s a waste of money pouring billions of dollars into an already flawed system.
We need a completely new modern-day education system and we could do that without an extra dollar of revenue,” he said.
And Mr McIntyre could do a preference deal with Barnaby Joyce’s camp, just in case the election goes down to the wire.
“We will not preference Tony Windsor or Labor, but there have been no formal discussions with the Coalition. We will sit down closer to the election to work out that.”
The 40-year-old has already hit the ground running, searching for a campaign base in Tamworth’s Peel St.
Mr McIntyre says he’s also considering campaign offices in Glen Innes and Armidale.
“People can see finally we have real change. We’re not just a political party, we’re a political movement. I’ve been very impressed with here. New England has some very high-quality voters,” he said.