New England by-election: Ian Britza backs his political experience

COUNTRY VALUES: Ian Britza will stand as the Australian Country Party candidate for New England. Photo: Peter Hardin
COUNTRY VALUES: Ian Britza will stand as the Australian Country Party candidate for New England. Photo: Peter Hardin

IAN Britza says he’s a conservative alternative with political experience – and if the people of New England elected him, he would hold a balance of power position.

Standing for the Australian Country Party, Mr Britza calls himself “a conservative with a social conscious”.

“If the people of New England want a politician, then vote for Barnaby Joyce – if they want a parliamentarian who will return New England to the balance of power, then I’m your man,” he said.

A former Liberal MP in the Western Australian state government, Mr Britza refers to himself as a parliamentarian rather politician, because he’ll “always put the people first”.

“These people need to know their member is going to raise his voice, whether he gets belted or not,” he said. 

“Will he raise his voice on their behalf? That’s something I’ve got a record of doing.

“My attitude is, if someone comes to me with something and it’s right, it’s legal and it doesn’t conflict with my personal conscience, I will fight for it even if it cost me my seat.

“I know that’s not kosher for a politician to say, but that's how I feel.”

Despite holding the traditionally safe Labor seat of Morley for eight years, Mr Britza says he’s “not political”, but rather, “politically experienced”.

“I’m not party hack, I haven’t grown up in a party,” he said,

“If you’re part of a major party, it doesn’t matter what you think, the party policy is going to have its voice.

“Now I am member of a party, but every time I look at what their policy is on any given issue, I think ‘this is how I feel in my heart’.”

Mr Britza wants to bring the “good, old, country values” that he grew up with back to politics.

“Parliament is primarily run by city folk, who don’t hold those values that people in country grew up with,” he said.

“If you hold a conservative view, you're considered non-progressive, which is sad, because I don't think I’m behind the eight-ball.”

While he admitted he doesn’t “have a handle on every issue” in the region, Mr Britza was adamant “farmers are being ignored”, particularly when it came to water issues.

“I think the farmers are being given lip service,” he said.

“Now I’m no fisherman, but it reminds me of when you hook the fish and you let the fish run thinking that it’s OK. And then you pull it back.

“Sometimes I think the farmers are on this hope on thinking it’s going to be OK, but actually they’re already hooked, the decision has already been made and the government just won’t say it straight out.”

While he recognises the mammoth task he faces going up against Mr Joyce, he said the situation is similar to his victory in Morley in 2008.

“It was an unwinnable seat, no one said I could do it,” Mr Britza said.

“Just like my first election run, there is angst against the sitting member.

“My role is to give the voters a genuine alternative. We’re going to scare the daylights out of [Mr Joyce], I’ll tell you that much.

While Mr Britza believes the Nationals had forgotten their roots, he says if elected, he would still support the current government – and hold a balance of power position.

“Do I think I can win? I'm not saying that, but I tell you what, it's going to be race. [Mr Joyce] isn’t going to win by 300 metres,” he said.

Mr Britza still lives in Western Australia, although he is moving to NSW regardless of the election outcome, and drove for three days across the Nullabor to be in the region for ballot draw.

“What would motivate me to do this? A sense of right,” he said.

“What I’m sensing from people is that everything is falling apart, so why should we care?

“That feeling is making me stand, to say not all of us in government are like that. There are handful of us who care for the same values you care for, and we need to raise our voice.”

The city of Tamworth alone is larger than Mr Britza’s former electorate of Morley

“It’s true, I don’t live here – but I have lived in NSW for 25 years and I have country values,” he said.

“If I was elected, I’d be here with my whole family within three weeks.”


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