The outcome of the battle for NSW’s New England electorate may be too close to call, but Independent candidate Tony Windsor must be questioning his return to politics.
You would think that the recent Newspoll putting Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce ahead by 51 to 49 must be giving Mr Windsor a big enough headache, but it appears he’s fighting on all fronts.
The Australian yesterday reported allegations of bullying by Mr Windsor during his time at Tamworth’s Farrer Memorial Agricultural High School in the 1960s. The allegations – include slashing of a younger pupil’s knuckles with a knife and beating others with a riding crop – have lead to Mr Windsor seeking legal advice.
Mr Windsor claims the reports are simply “gutter journalism” and that he “will not dignify the article by commenting further”.
The reports come hot on the heels of Mr Windsor’s claims that a Nationals ad depicts him a ‘philanderer’. The ad features two women talking about Mr Windsor’s support for then prime minister Julia Gillard, as though he was a cheating lover now asking her to come back via text message. Mr Windsor claims his wife Lyn is “deeply upset” over the ad.
However, Nationals candidate Barnaby Joyce is unrepentant about the ads, rejecting Mr Windsor’s claim as “faux outrage” and stating, “Any person would say, ‘this is a story about an actor, not a story about Mr Windsor’”.
Mr Joyce went on to say that, despite his party’s wishes, the campaign had become “dirty”. He accused Mr Windsor of making “unsavoury” comments about him and his campaign manager. He also claims that Mr Windsor has five attack ads running on air in New England and an offer to withdraw all Nationals ads if Mr Windsor did the same, was rejected.
“We said to Mr Windsor, ‘you withdraw yours’ – because they’re running negative ads as well, of course – ‘and we’ll withdraw ours’, but of course they never responded to that.”
Whether Mr Windsor can indeed oust the Deputy Prime Minister on Saturday remains to be seen, but what is certain is that his reputation has well and truly taken a beating.
Do you think that everything is game in a political campaign? Or is it time that Barnaby Joyce and Tony Windsor grow up?