Tony Windsor refuses to rule out comeback amid Joyce fallout

QUESTION MARK: Tony Windsor was Barnaby Joyce's predecessor, stepping down in 2013 and unsuccessfully contesting the seat in 2106. Photo: Gareth Gardner
QUESTION MARK: Tony Windsor was Barnaby Joyce's predecessor, stepping down in 2013 and unsuccessfully contesting the seat in 2106. Photo: Gareth Gardner

TONY Windsor has refused to rule out standing for the seat he held for more than a decade come the next election.

While the former independent New England MP insisted he was “not thinking about anything”, he left the door ajar to a potential political comeback.

“I’ll paraphrase Barnaby Joyce and say if I do decide to do something, the electorate will be the first to know,” Mr Windsor said.

“I was asked if I would like to take the opportunity to rule out running, and I said ‘no I wouldn’t’.

“I haven’t made any decisions about what I’ll be doing next year. I don’t know when the election is, or what I’ll be doing in my personal life, or in my grandkids.

“Never say never. You should never say you won’t do something when you might.

“The point I'm making is, I’m still interest in the same issues and the neglect of some of those issues.”

When he contested the seat in 2016, Mr Windsor stood on a platform of improving the NBN, upholding the original Gonski education funding deal, climate change and renewable energy, stopping the Liverpool Plains mines and establishing a federal anti-corruption commission. 

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Mr Windsor also suggested the senate was an option.

“A number of people have suggested that to me,” he said.

“I nearly did that in 2016. In fact, that’s what rekindled my interest.

“In the end, I stood against Joyce back then because I through of all the damage he would do, and how he would act as a handbrake on a lot of things.”

On Tuesday, Mr Joyce hosed down rumours he would not contest the next election, or step down before hand, releasing a statement to confirm he’d be seeking re-election.

The statement followed speculation that senior Nationals were pushing for former National leader John Anderson to replace Mr Joyce as the party's New England representative.

Mr Anderson served as deputy prime minister to John Howard and resigned from parliament in 2007.

Mr Anderson said he had been ­approached by several Nationals figures to run in the seat, but he had considered the conversations to be flippant and “joshing around”.

“I’ve not regarded any of those as serious proposals, nor would I see them as serious proposals,” he said.

Mr Anderson refused to rule out a second tilt at federal politics, however he could not “see the circumstances where I would run again”.

“This is not something that’s been on my radar,” he said.

Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshal has been touted as a potential successor to Mr Joyce, however he current holds the NSW tourism and major events portfolio in the Berejiklian government and may not be attracted to the idea of becoming a backbench MP in Canberra.

National Farmers Federation president Fiona Simson has been named at times as a possible candidate if she chose to enter federal parliament.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull gave Mr Joyce his seal of approval, and said he’s been a great advocate for regional Australia

“I look forward to him running again in New England,” Mr Turnball said.

“Barnaby is a very effective advocate for regional Australia and I look forward to him continuing to play a role, a prominent role in Australian public life.”

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