AN emerging anti-Nationals organisation will take aim at the seat of Calare when it starts its push to thwart the party’s prospects at this year’s state and federal elections.
Anyone But Nats has pledged support for viable candidates in Nationals-held seats, and will commence a series of community forums in key electorates to whip up support.
The first will be held in Mudgee – in Andrew Gee’s Calare electorate – which also encompasses Orange, Bathurst, Lithgow, Oberon, Blayney and Wellington.
The group’s foundation, and growing support, comes after the Nationals’ scandal-plagued 2018, starting with former leader Mr Joyce’s affair and ending with Mallee member Andrew Broad’s “sugar baby” controversy, where the former assistant minister sent messages to a younger woman with the online alias “Sweet Sophia Rose”.
A change is on the way, and we're facilitating that. We’re creating a space.Anyone But Nats co-founder Rohan Boehm
Anyone But Nats co-founder Rohan Boehm believes the Nationals are facing an existential election.
“Those blokes aren't untouchable,” he said of the party’s elected MPs.
“And they will be un-electable in the face of new attitudes. The idea that regional people are somehow backwards, non-progressive, non-interested and not terribly smart is a fabrication based on the sort of people that represent us.
“A change is on the way, and we're facilitating that. We’re creating a space.”
Anyone But Nats is backed by fellow co-founder Charles Tym, an IT businessman who contributed $20,000 to the group at its outset.
Mr Boehm says he is talking to prospective independent candidates “all the time”, many of whom are asking Anyone But Nats to run supporting fundraisers.
The group has also slated community forums across New England and Broken Hill, with Wagga Wagga another likely venue.
There are signs Anyone But Nats could gain traction: in August, National Farmers' Federation chief Fiona Simpson countered the Nationals' position by declaring climate change was worsening drought conditions in Australia.
“It is the effect of climate change we need to be aware of that makes the impacts of a drought even worse,” she said.
Nationals seats have progressive credentials, too: a majority of all federal Nationals seats – including Calare – voted “yes” in the same-sex marriage plebiscite.
Mr Gee was contacted for comment for this story.
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