Candidates hit out against Barnaby Joyce’s boycott of public debates

LAST TIME: The 2016 candidates at a public debate organised by the local media. Photo: Barry Smith
LAST TIME: The 2016 candidates at a public debate organised by the local media. Photo: Barry Smith

The fallout from Barnaby Joyce’s decision to boycott public debates and forums has continued, as the Labor, CountryMinded and the Seniors United Party all express their disappointment in the former MP’s decision.

A senior Nationals member of Mr Joyce’s campaign team confirmed the former deputy prime minister would not be participating in any public forums or debates, due to the number of “out-of-towner” candidates.

“If they are serious about the election, which we don’t think they are, they will be up here campaigning all the time, not just for these one off events,” he said.

“Instead, Mr Joyce will be hitting the road and talking to voters on their terms, because he’s far more interested listening to voter concerns, than the views of out-of-towners.”

The day after The Leader revealed this, the Tamworth Business Chamber cancelled its meet the candidates forum, due to a lack of interest from the public and candidates, which president Jye Segboer put down to the front runner not attending.

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Labor

Labor candidate David Ewings said he was “really disappointed” in Mr Joyce’s decision and “absolutely devestated” the Tamworth Business Chamber cancelled its debate.

“It was a great opportunity for other candidates, obviously myself included,” Mr Ewings said.

“Barnaby Joyce is just not interested and it backs up what I've been saying right from the word go, that Barnaby Joyce takes this electorate for granted.”

Labor’s Shadow Regional Communications Minister, Stephen Jones, was campaigning with Mr Ewings in Tamworth on Thursday, and was “shocked” when he heard Barnaby Joyce had pulled the pin on debates. 

“Who's ever seen Barnaby Joyce short of a word to say?” he asked.

“And yet he’s running from a fair-dinkum debate with the local candidates that he reckons he’s better than.

“Be fair dinkum Barnaby. Stump up, sit down and have a debate with these people, and prove that your ideas are better than the ideas that David is putting forward.”

CountryMinded

Pete Mailler said he was dismayed by the death of democracy in New England after the Tamworth Business Chamber’s decision to cancel its Meet the Candidates event because of the disdain shown by one candidate.

“It is simply beyond me that the event would be called off because the National’s candidate, who has clearly demonstrated his absolute contempt for the people of New England, refused to participate,” Mr Mailler said.

“The tradition of the public hall meeting has existed since the time of federation.

“The Tamworth Business Chamber has insulted every other legally entered candidate, many of whom have invested substantial amounts of time and money engaging in our democratic process.

“Just what is Joyce so afraid of? [The National party] doesn’t seem to want him loose in public, but, really, this out-of-towner excuse is weaker than water, considering that he was once an out-of-towner candidate also.”

“If Joyce believes he is the best candidate for the seat of New England then he should have no reason to hide. His boycott of any candidate forum is nothing short of disrespect for the electorate, the candidates and our system of government.”

Mr Mailler said CountryMinded was running to get a better deal for the electorate.

“We have a vision for New England and we want to talk to people about the issues – renewable energy, education, protection of Ag land and water from CSG extraction and Big coal,” he said.

Seniors United Party of Australia

Warwick Stacey said he was “flabbergasted” at Barnaby Joyce’s decision.

“What’s wrong with this man? Is he scared? Is he lacking confidence in his own ability to debate the major issue?” Mr Stacey asked.

“I mean, he was the Deputy Prime Minister wasn’t he? What’s he got to be afraid of? And using the excuse that there are so many out-of-towner candidates is so lame that it’s laughable.”

Mr Stacey said it was yet another example of the current batch of politicians who are arrogant and out of touch with their electorates and shows a great lack of understanding of how the public was fed up and sick and tired of the way Canberra operates.