Tony Windsor throws his support behind two candidates

LESS than 18 months ago, former New England MP Tony Windsor was in the thick of the New England election - but today, he's happy to be watching from the sideline.

Mr Windsor announced he wouldn't be contesting the seat just hours after the High Court found Barnaby Joyce ineligible.

Instead of hitting as many polling booths as possible in the last minute campaign trail blitz, Mr Windsor has spent most of today at his local booth in Werris Creek, where he's handing out how to vote cards for both CountryMinded's Pete Mailler and independent Rob Taber.

“I'm not involved with CountryMinded, but I've know Pete for a long time - I worked with him as the New England MP on some complex issues, particularly in the grain industry,” Mr Windsor said.

“As an individual, he's a very good candidate. I've know Rob Taber for a long time too, I have a lot of time for Rob.

“They're both good candidates and good, caring people.”

While Mr Windsor believe his former rival will still win the seat, that “doesn't mean you don't support the people who are serious about the issues”.

“It's been a odd sort of election in the sense that the main player has rolled himself up in a ball and said ‘I'm not playing’,” Mr Windsor said, refering to Mr Joyce's boycott of public debates and forums.

“The capacity to actually have a debate about policies and issues has almost been non-existent, it's all been about trivia - pamphlets getting ripped up, nasty notes being sent, that sort of stuff.”

Mr Joyce's decision to back away from public debates and policy discussions “may well do him a bit of damage”, and Mr Windsor hopes that doesn't become a template for future elections.

“At the end of the day, policy debate is what politics is all about,” he said.