Ever since Tony Windsor declared his intention to run for his former seat as an Independent, tensions have mounted in the New England electorate.
For current member and National's leader Barnaby Joyce, there’s a lot on the line – if he’s defeated in the 2016 election, he’ll become the first sitting deputy prime minister to lose his seat.
But Joyce is confident in a positive outcome, as he told the Sydney Morning Herald: “I am confident we will win, if I wasn’t I’d be straight up about it. But I’m not cocky, I’ll work very hard.”
The battle between Joyce and Windsor promises to be one of the most fascinating contests of the 2016 election.
Deputy prime minister Joyce first set foot in the senate in 2005 representing Queensland. He’s been in the spotlight a few times and in 2015 he made international headlines when he threatened to euthanase two dogs illegally brought into Australia owned by Hollywood actor Johnny Depp and his wife. Animosity between the politician and movie star has re-emerged following comments made by Depp during a television interview.
Joyce started his political career when he won a Queensland senate seat for the Nationals at the 2004 federal election. Having represented both Queensland in the senate and New South Wales in the House of representatives; he is the first person in the history of the Australian parliament to do so.
Minister Joyce was born and raised in Tamworth and is passionate for the growth of Australia’s agriculture. He has always been a fierce advocate for regional Australia; stating “Australia’s rural industries are among the most innovative and productive in the world.”
During his time as a National's senator he became known as a ‘political maverick’, crossing the floor 28 times.
Joyce has held a number of portfolio responsibilities including Coalition spokesperson for finance and debt reduction (2009–10), for regional development, infrastructure and water (2010), and for regional development, local government and water (2010–13). He is also responsible for the authoring of “The Birdsville Amendment” to predatory pricing legislation.
When Joyce resigned from the senate in 2013 to contest the election, he won New England for the Nationals in the biggest swing in Australian political history. He holds the seat with a margin of 21.5%.
Following Warren Truss’s retirement in February, Joyce was elected unopposed to become the new National Party leader and, consequently, deputy prime minister.
At the time he stated: “This responsibility is not taken lightly. I think that within the next few years we will continue to build on the exceptional work that has been done by the most recent giant of our party, Warren Truss. Warren will remain my friend, guide and philosopher and I will sound him out for advice as to who should go where.”
Barnaby Joyce is married with four daughters.