The Shooters, Fishers and Farmers have confirmed they’ll likely field a candidate if a High Court challenge involving Lyne MP Dr David Gillespie pitches the electorate into a sudden byelection.
Dr Gillespie’s place in parliament remains under a cloud as the High Court deliberates over whether to proceed with a challenge related to his ownership of a post office in Port Macquarie.
Fairfax Media revealed last year that Dr Gillespie owns a strip of shops in the coastal city, with one being leased to a franchisee of Australia Post – a government-owned corporation.
Labor believes the Australia Post outlet could be an indirect financial interest in the Commonwealth – grounds for disqualification from parliament.
Dr Gillespie updated his register of members’ interests on February 15 confirming he had sold the property in question, which means he can run if a byelection is triggered.
Upon hearing the news, NSW Shooters, Fishers and Farmers MLC Robert Borsak fired a shot at the Nationals, while confirming they’d likely contest the byelection if a “suitable candidate” was found.
“If these reports of the Federal Member for Lyne being ineligible to remain in the House of Representatives are correct, then it is just another example of the arrogance we keep seeing in the National Party,” Mr Borsak said.
“Just like at the State level, federally the Nationals have forgotten the rural people they’re supposed to represent. They seem to think they can do whatever they want and that the rules don’t apply to them.
“Instead, they’re just caring about themselves and doing whatever the city Liberals tell them to do.”
Any party looking to contest a byelection has a mountain to climb, with the Nationals sweeping to a comfortable victory in 2016.
During that election, Dr Gillespie polled 49.6 per cent of the first preference vote. The next nearest was Labor’s Peter Alley – the same man who referred Dr Gillespie to the High Court – with 26.6 per cent of the vote.
The Shooters, Fishers and Farmers didn’t run a candidate in 2016.
Following a boundary redistribution in 2016, the electorate of Lyne now stretches from south of Port Macquarie down to Lorn, which includes the Maitland suburbs of Largs, Bolwarra and Lorn.
Dr Gillespie declined to comment when contacted by Fairfax Media.