New England by-election candidate list

While we know what the political heavyweights are doing – Barnaby Joyce is standing, while former MP Tony Windsor isn’t be – who are the other contenders for round two of the battle of New England?

STEPPING INTO THE RING

Rob Taber – Independent 

The Armidale-based independent is ready to take on Barnaby Joyce for the third time, after contesting the seat in 2013 and 2016.

“I was second to Barnaby the first time around with 36 per cent of the vote,” Mr Taber said.

“There is no reason why we can’t improve on that. Without Tony Windsor standing, we have a reasonably good chance of doing well.”

Mr Taber said he made the final call on standing after he found out fellow independent Tony Windsor was out of contention.

“Its been suggested the by-election is just a formality to get Barnaby back in again, and that's wrong,” he said.

“We need to make it a contest. We owe it to the people of New England to have more than one major candidate.”

Labor

David Ewings will represent Labor again, after contesting the seat in 2016.

There were more informal votes that Labor voters in 2016, with the party only receiving 7 per cent of the vote.

But without the National focus on the battle between “two of the biggest brand name politicians in the country”, Mr Joyce and former New England MP Tony Windsor, Mr Ewings is confident of improving his result.

“I am here to represent Labor’s views and those of the people of this electorate that want an alternative,” he said.

“If there are people out there who are feeling disaffected, who do want things to change, who want improvements across a range of different areas, they should really consider voting for Labor.

Ian Brizta – Australian Country Party

Former Liberal Western Australian MP Ian Britza announced he will step into the fray, representing the Australian Country Party.

He held the traditionally Labor seat of Morley for eight years, before losing it in the March by-election.

“When I ran for Morley in 2008, Labor held it by 11.3 per cent – and I won it by 11.3 per cent,” he said.

“No one, not one person, said I could win it. Now I’m no fool, on paper New England is a safe Nats seat, but in my opinion it’s achievable to at least give the Nats a genuine fright.”

The Australian Country Party, previously known as the Country Alliance, has been contesting both state and federal seats in Victoria since 2006. The New England by-election would be the first time the party’s run a candidate for the House of Representatives outside of Victoria. 

CountryMinded

Pete Mailler will stand for the party, and will be looking to follow up on the grassroots campaign his brother, David Mailler, ran in 2016.

The 46-year-old grain and cattle said for New England to get the most of its king-maker position, voters “must not return the Nationals” – but that doesn't mean he wants a change of government.

“The Coalition will be motivated to retain office for the maximum possible term,” he said.

“They must deal with whoever holds the seat of New England on behalf of the electorate, unless that person is already a member of the Coalition.

“In other words, Barnaby Joyce can’t leverage the political power on offer to the electorate of New England, to get a better deal from this Government from this election.

Greens

The Greens have confirmed Quirindi farmer and Liverpool Plains Alliance community campaigner Peter Wills will stand for the party.

Mr Wills is known to Liverpool Plains farmers as a staunch member and activist in their long campaigns against the Shenhua and BHP Caroona coal mines, and the Santos coal seam gas project in the Pilliga.

He said his campaign would focus on protecting land and water from unwanted coal mines and CSG wells and helping workers transition to sustainable jobs in the renewable energy economy.

“New England voters have a clear choice in this election – they can vote for the coal parties, or vote Greens to save agricultural land, water, and native Australian habitats,” Mr Wills said.

“My father worked this land until the very day he passed away, his last job fixing a leaking water trough.

“The community and I can’t and won’t sit by while government want to risk our most precious resource, water, for the sake of coal and CSG.”

Seniors United Party of Australia

Warwick Stacey is not what you expect when it comes to a Seniors United Party candidate.

He served as a parachuter in the British Army, a commander in the SAS, can simultaneous interpreter German, and is an expert in maritime piracy and resolving kidnaps.

The Seniors United Party of Australia (SUPA) officially endorsed Mr Stacey, a man with “broad, real-life experience”, as its candidate for the New England byelection.

A disillusioned former member of the Liberal Party, Mr Stacey believes the public - and in particular seniors - are very upset with the “shameless self interest, abuse of expense accounts and the brazen sense of entitlement” of politicians.

“I’m increasingly appalled at the way politicians treat us with what I call careless indifference,” Mr Stacey said.

“We have a comprehensive policy on politician’s remuneration, superannuation and expense accounts, as well as other policies which will be released during the campaign.

“This is an opportunity for the people of New England to show their displeasure at the way politics has been conducted in Canberra in recent years.”

ON THE FENCE 

Sustainable Australia Party

Party president William Bourke said his party was seriously considering running a candidate.

Mr Bourke described the Sustainable Australia Party as an “independent, centrist party”, with “common sense, evidence-based policies”.

“We’ve already had discussions over the weekend and we’ll be talking to several potential candidates this week,” he said.

The party will hold a meeting with local members on Sunday at the Tamworth Hotel to determine whether it runs a candidate or not.

The Sustainable Australia Party has a high-profile member in Dick Smith, and while he was “unlikely” to stand as a candidate, Mr Smith will be asked if he wants to “play a role in any potential campaign” and has been invited to the Tamworth meeting.

RULED OUT

Mark Rodda 

Tamworth councillor and ex-Nationals member Mark Rodda hosed down rumours he would run as an independent.

“I like federal politics, but I would not be under any illusion about the mammoth task it would be to have a crack at New England against Barnaby Joyce with the full weight of the Nationals, Liberals and the current Commonwealth government,” he told The Leader.

“It’s a big ask – I’ve got six kids and they’re all young. I don’t want to do anything to hurt their upbringing.

“I remember reading a story about Tony [Windsor] and his family, and the sacrifices they had to make, which no doubt Barnaby’s family has had to make as well.”

Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party

While the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party is keen to fight for traditionally National-voting seats at both levels of government, it won’t contest the by-election.

“Just like the rest of Australia, we believed Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce when they stood in Parliament hand on heart, saying that Mr Joyce was not ineligible on the basis of his citizenship,” NSW MLC Robert Brown said.

“As such, we have not made preparations to field a candidate in the New England by-election.

“We just completed three by-elections in rural New South Wales in the last year where we had record swings towards us after contesting Lower House electorates for the first time.

“It is clear that rural people believe that the National Party has grown arrogant and lazy as the lap-dog of the Liberal Party.”

One Nation

Party leader Pauline Hanson confirmed the party would focus on the Queensland state election rather than the New England by-election.

“While One National is a major threat to the tired old parties and I would have loved to have seen a One Nation candidate run, it would have been unfair to our hardworking Queensland candidates to have the party become distracted by the New England sideshow,” Senator Hanson said.

“So it looks like Barnaby Joyce has finally had a little bit of luck go his way.”

Tony Windsor

Former independent New England MP and Barnaby Joyce’s main rival in the 2016 election, Tony Windsor, won’t be standing.

Mr Windsor said the past elections have been taxing on his family, and for that reason, he won’t run.

However, the former MP said he won’t be “out of the political dimension” and wouldn’t rule out the a tilt at the Senate as an independent if some issues he was particularly concerned about weren’t addressed.

He said the water issues surrounding the coal mining on the Liverpool Plains and the coal seam gas mining in the Pilliga forest were particularly worrying.

“I’m going to immerse myself in some of those issues,” Mr Windsor said.

“I’m not interested in sitting on a green seat, that’s never been my motivation in politics. But if these issues haven't been addressed, I may run for the Senate.”