Senator Barnaby Joyce
Senator Barnaby Joyce

Pressure on Scott continues

QUEENSLAND Senator Barnaby Joyce says our federal seat of Maranoa would be his “first choice” if he moved to the House of Representatives, as speculation continues about the next phase of his political career.

Senator Joyce, who has been described in the past week as an “irresistible political force”, was yesterday open about considering a move from the Senate, but made it clear he had no plans to directly challenge his Opposition colleague and current LNP member for Maranoa Bruce Scott.

He said it was “neither the custom nor the practice” in the LNP to challenge a sitting member, but would not rule out standing if a decision was made by the local party machine to install him as the candidate.

He has also refused to rule out standing against independent Tony Windsor in his seat of New England, just over the border in northern New South Wales.

“Obviously you’d like to stand in the seat in which you live and I live in Maranoa now, and a lot of people don’t want me to leave Queensland,” said Senator Joyce, whose office is in St George.

“But Maranoa is held by a sitting MP and so is not available and in any case, all these decisions are up to the (LNP) electorate council.

“If Maranoa is not available then there is the option of standing elsewhere, but it’s not my preference to move across the border.”

Senator Joyce said unlike Mr Windsor, he had made it clear he could not support a carbon tax, which has become a pivotal issue in Mr Windsor’s own political future.

“Tony Windsor supports a Green and independent alliance with the Gillard Government but hasn’t made up his mind on a carbon tax – he’s still doing a merry little dance,” Senator Joyce said.

“I have made it clear I believe a carbon tax would hurt regional Australia and it’s not something I support.”

Senator Joyce last week noted Mr Windsor had challenged BHP to reveal its position on the carbon tax, adding that perhaps it was time for Mr Windsor to do the same as he was “the one at the political poker table”.

A carbon tax on each tonne of carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted from fossil fuels used by Australian industry – aimed at reducing global warming but which could push up the cost of products and services – could be in place by Christmas if Mr Windsor and other independents give the Gillard Government the nod.

If they do not, a hung parliament would result not necessarily in an early federal election, but in the LNP opposition being invited by Governor-General Quentin Bryce to form a new government if they can secure the support of independents.

Mr Windsor, who is based in Tamworth, conceded yesterday he had not made up his mind on a carbon tax, saying he would “place a lot of weight” on a Productivity Commission report due in about a month’s time.

He said if a carbon tax meant one billion a year from its revenue was ploughed back into the farming sector it was something he would consider supporting.

But he was unequivocal on one question – does he consider Barnaby Joyce a threat?

“No,” the outspoken independent boomed laughingly when asked yesterday. “He’s entitled to stand wherever he wants, but I have to say he’s adopting an odd strategy.

“He’s saying he’d prefer to run at home in Maranoa, but if he can’t get that then he’d consider New England.

“I think the people of New England would see that for what it is – they’d be second-best.

“It’s a bit like the last election, there were five electorates he was considering bestowing his presence upon.”

As the Daily News reported on April 9, rumours have been circulating locally that Warwick Chamber of Commerce president David Littleproud was planning to pitch for Mr Scott’s job, which Mr Littleproud said was “hypothetical”.

Mr Scott, 67, said at that time he had no intention of standing aside to make way for anyone else and was adamant his batteries were “fully charged”.

He repeated his commitment yesterday, saying we were “only nine months into this term of government” and that he expected he would continue to have the support of his local LNP base.

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