HIGH-profile candidate for Nationals pre-selection for New England Richard Torbay has explained his reasons for abandoning his independent status to join the Nationals.
In Tenterfield on Thursday night, Mr Torbay, the current Member for Northern Tablelands outlined his plan for pre-selection to about 25 people who attended the open meeting at Tenterfield Golf Club.
He said he believed there were people who were shocked at the June announcement of his decisions to join the Nationals and run for a federal seat.
“I’m sure a few Weet-Bix went across the table that morning,” Mr Torbay said. “I wouldn’t have predicted it myself.
“I make no secret of the damage that has been done to the independent brand at the federal level. I heard it nearly every single day in the election campaign.”
He said state elections and byelections since the last federal election had shown there had been “ramifications” following the sway independents held in federal parliament.
Mr Torbay said he wanted to be up front with the New England electorate about his intentions and was confident he would remain able to “speak up and speak out” about issues.
“Will I be a maverick? No I won’t be a maverick. That department is full,” he told the meeting.
“I will be a team player that speaks up and speaks out.
“I believe absolutely there will be a change of government in the next federal election. I want to make sure the seat of New England is not sidelined or punished on issues we want to see completed or progressed.
“I believe firmly the Nationals are the best way that I can deliver for the people of New England.”
The meeting was attended by Nationals Member of the Legislative Council Sarah Mitchell, Gunnedah mayor Adam Marshall and a number of local government candidates.
The audience raised issues with Mr Torbay including the future of local government, the native vegetation act, the Murray-Darling catchment issues, mining, the Cross-Border Commission and small business.
Mr Torbay said through his dealings with Tenterfield Shire over the past 14 years in NSW Parliament he had found Tenterfield to be a “very active community”. He said if he had a magic wand, he would ease the issues of small and medium businesses to help businesses to grow.
Mr Torbay will continue to sit as an independent in State Parliament until the federal election is called.
He is the only Nationals candidate approved for preselection for the seat of New England.