New England by-election Labor candidate David Ewings says seat taken for granted by Barnaby Joyce

ROUND TWO: Shadow Agriculture Minister Joel Fitzgibbon flanks Labor's candidate David Ewings in Tamworth. Photo: Gareth Gardner
ROUND TWO: Shadow Agriculture Minister Joel Fitzgibbon flanks Labor's candidate David Ewings in Tamworth. Photo: Gareth Gardner

FOR too long, the New England electorate has been taken for granted by its incumbent politicians, Labor’s New England candidate says.

David Ewings will again lock horns with Nationals’ candidate Barnaby Joyce, after contesting the seat in 2016.

“I’m clearly the underdog in this race,” Mr Ewings said.

“The Nationals and other conservative forces have been incumbent in this electorate for a century or so, and that’s a problem, because when that’s the case, complacency sets in. The electorate is being taken for granted.”

Read more: David Ewings feature-length profile

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 who 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.

“This is an opportunity for you to send a message, not only to the New England, but to regional seats everywhere with National party incumbents.”

Mr Ewings said he was honouring Labor’s commitment to be part of the New England’s long-term future. 

“We made a commitment in 2016 to building the brand and get the message out there, and that’s exactly what we’ve done,” he said.

The Scone-based resident has served in the Royal Australian Air Force and worked in the coal mining and steel industries.

Shadow Agriculture Minister Joel Fitzgibbon made the announcement with Mr Ewings and said there would be a number of high-profile Labor politicians campaigning in the electorate, with a visit from party leader Bill Shorten “under consideration”.

“I expect Bill Shorten will visit the New England during the campaign, but I can’t be absolutely sure of that,” he said.

Read more:Who’s in, out and on the fence for the 2017 by-election

Meanwhile, the Greens have confirmed it will enter a candidate in the race, after the party’s New England branch met on Wednesday night.

The party has opened up pre-selection nominations, which close on Friday. Voting will take place over the weekend and a candidate will be announced early next week.

Armidale-based independent Rob Taber will run against Mr Joyce for the third time, while former Liberal Western Australian state MP Ian Britza will stand for the Australian Country Party.

The Leader has asked Mr Joyce for a comment.