RICHARD Torbay has been formally endorsed to stand as the Nationals candidate in New England to contest the next federal election.
Party members voted on Saturday to endorse Torbay, much to the delight of party heavy weights, although it has been suggested that three members voted against Mr Torbay in the pre-selection poll.
Mr Torbay said he was humbled by the “overwhelming support” from local party members.
“Right from the beginning I said that I would not stand for the party without the backing of the local membership” Mr Torbay said.
“For the past couple of months I have been meeting with local party members right across the electorate, listening to their views, and I’m extremely glad that they have given me their endorsement.”
Mr Torbay believes that the New England region needed a Nationals MP to avoid being sidelined after the next election.
“The independent movement in Federal Parliament failed when they became apologists for the Labor government, and as a result I think independents will not have any influence beyond the next election” Mr Torbay said.
“It is my view that a strengthened, more assertive National Party is the way forward for areas like the New England, working together as regional MPs in the interest of our electorates.”
“I have been extremely encouraged by the revival of The Nationals in recent years and I look forward to playing my part in restoring the influence and strength that was associated with the old Country Party.”
Fighting for better health, education and government services for the regions and the restoration of funding to the operating budget of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry are likely to be the basis of Mr Torbay’s campaign.
Nationals duty senator for New England John Williams said Mr Torbay’s successful pre-selection bid marked the day the party “launched a strong challenge” to regain the federal seat.
Mr Williams said he was looking forward to the next election.
“People throughout the region are hoping it is sooner rather than later,” he said.
“Richard is an accomplished politician, a champion for his people and a dogged fighter on local issues.
“Since he announced his intention to stand for pre-selection the groundswell of support in the electorate has been growing.”
Mr Williams said Mr Torbay had visited many parts of New England explaining his decision since announcing his intention to stand for pre-selection in June and had made the electorate aware of his desire to be a part of a coalition government.
“He will have the full support of the party as he challenges for the seat,” Mr Williams said.
“I see the next election in New England as a choice between a man who has achieved for his constituents over the past 14 years or a man who defied his constituents on the carbon tax, independent youth allowance and the support of the worst government this nation has seen.”
National Party leader Warren Truss said the announcement Mr Torbay had been successful capped off a “stellar month” for the party.
“We have an outstanding contingent of local champions across regional NSW, following pre-selections confirmed in Lyne, Page, Richmond and Hunter – and more to come,” he said.
Mr Truss welcomed Mr Torbay’s expertise and experience in business, local government and state government.
“He has proved he can work across all sectors and listens to the views of the community,” Mr Truss said.