BARNABY Joyce has hit back at accusations he was chasing the media spotlight by appearing at a farming conference in Western Australia.
A senior Nationals source questioned why Mr Joyce was on the other side of the country to talk about the live sheep export industry rather than in his own electorate.
“You’d think after all he has done and the problems he has caused over the last few months that he'd be solely focused on the local electorate,” they told Fairfax Media.
“Perhaps he needs to be reminded that he’s a backbencher now, no longer needed to fly around the country chasing the media spotlight.
“There is a Deputy Prime Minister and other ministers to do that – and none of them are him.”
However, Mr Joyce denied he was after media attention.
“If fighting for people battling the drought is seeking the limelight, then I stand accused,” he said.
“I’d rather stand accused of fighting then hiding under a rock.”
Mr Joyce said the threats facing Western Australian sheep farmers, were the same as those facing sheep farmers in his own electorate. “
The sheep market is across the nation – most especially in New England – and if it shuts down it doesn’t matter where you live,” he said.
Mr Joyce spoke at the WA Farmers Federation on Saturday, despite the organisation’s president Tony York saying there were only two speaking slots for politicians at the live export forum, with neither reserved for the New England MP.
The former Agriculture Minister told a meeting of more than a thousand farmers that opponents of live sheep exports were “zealots”.
“What we’re up against is like a religion, it’s zealotry and they’re not going to stop at just the closure of the live sheep industry,” he said.