(Opinion piece written by Senator Ron Boswell and published in the Northern Daily Leader on 18/09/2010)
Senator Ron Boswell, the former leader of The Nationals in the Senate, believes Tony Windsor's choice was made out of spite.
There is an axiom in politics that the electorate is never wrong and is the final judge in any election.
If you lose you just have to accept the decision.
This election has been different.
Australia has been bushwhacked by the independent members from the two most conservative seats in Australia at the poll.
In New England the Labor Party primary vote was the lowest in the country at 8.13 percent.
The vast majority of electors must still be scratching their heads and wondering how their anti-Labor, anti-Green, votes could have put in place the most left-wing government in the history of Australia, with Julia Gillard as Prime Minister and Greens leader Bob Brown as de facto deputy prime minister.
Tony Windsor cannot claim the anti-Labor, anti-Green vote in New England was an aberration.
It is a Federation seat that lost its last and only Labor member in 1913. From then until the election of Windsor in 2001 it was represented by the Country Party/National Party.
One other factor significantly compounds the extraordinary nature of their joint decision.
The Coalition won more seats than Labor.
Why then did Windsor and Oakeshott fly in the face of the profound rejection of Labor, locally and nationally, to install Julia Gillard as minority Prime Minister?
It was certainly not because the package offered by the Coalition was inferior.
The Coalition's package was better in many ways and was not reliant, as Labor's was, on the mining tax which would have taken jobs and income out of regional Australia.
Labor's plan gives with one hand, and takes away with another.
The Coalition's package was to have started immediately while key elements of the Labor package are years away.
While rural and regional voters want their share of government services and spending, they don’t want their votes to be auctioned off to install a government they had clearly rejected in return for some local projects and what would be seen, by most, as arcane parliamentary reforms.
The decision simply was never about the relative merits of packages relating to reform and spending.
The Coalition could have paved the streets of Tamworth with gold and it would have made no difference.
Windsor wanted a Labor government and was prepared to ignore the electorate, the overall result, and his own roots.
Ironically, one of his main reasons for becoming an independent was to be in a position to disregard the party line so as to be free to more accurately reflect the views of their electorates. Well so much for that.
Tony Windsor left the National Party after being beaten by John Anderson in a federal pre-selection, and in a later National Party pre-selection for a state seat.
Windsor resented being beaten.
He attacked Anderson under parliamentary privilege, making unsubstantiated accusations of wrongdoing that he was not prepared to repeat outside the House.
Investigations by the Public Prosecutor, the Australian Federal Police, and the Senate, all cleared Anderson, but Windsor has never had the decency to apologise.
The extent of his bile is encapsulated in his statement that leaving the National Party was the equivalent of beating cancer.
Windsor was never going to support the Coalition.
Ignoring his constituents’ wishes and using their votes to elect a Labor and Green government should only be construed as payback for The Nationals’ rejection of him.
The Nationals got it right.