Voters in the Northern NSW seat of Northern Tablelands look set to elect Independent Candidate and current Mayor of Armidale Dr Jim Maher as controversy grips the campaign of National Party candidate.
The Armidale Express has revealed that National Party Candidate Adam Marshall who was brought in from outside the electorate had previously worked for an Independent MP in another seat and at that time he was both a member of the ALP and National Party.
The by-election for the seat of Northern Tablelands is now being seen as a litmus test for the upcoming federal election due in September. The seat became open when the former MP Richard Torbay who was the endorsed candidate for the National Party for the seat of New England resign due to controversy surrounding his ownership of more than 20 Centrelink buildings dating back to the era when John Howard was Prime Minister.
The opening up of the candidature for the federal seat of New England has opening up an opportunity for current federal Senator Barnaby Joyce to switch from upper to lower house to fulfil his ambition of becoming National Party leader and hence Deputy Prime Minister under an Abbott led government.
A victory for current Armidale Mayor Dr Maher would be seen as a setback for the political ambitions of Barnaby Joyce who would most likely withdraw his bid for pre-selection in Dr Maher would to achieve victory in next Saturday's election
It has also been reported in the local press that sections of the local National Party who are upset with the decision of its Sydney based Head Quarters to impose candidates in the region are considering supporter Dr Maher for the election.
A loss for National Party candidate in next Saturday's election would have the likely impact of stalling Joyce's Lower House bid and his long held desire to be National Party leader. This would also open up the possibility of former National Farmers Federation President Jock Laurie to run as the candidate for New England against incumbent MP Tony Windsor.