‘This is Barnaby territory and he’ll win easy’
BARNABY Joyce expects his public marriage breakdown and child with partner Vikki Campion will cost him votes, but his star power in the rusted on Nationals seat of New England should see him easily re-elected.
"I'll take a bit of a haircut because of my marriage breakdown," Mr Joyce told The Sunday Telegraph on Saturday.
"I understand that. But not one person has ever said I'm not working hard."
Mr Joyce's nearest rival is Independent Adam Blakester.
Long-time Nationals member and NSW Farmers executive Kevin Tongue was manning a booth in Loomberah, near Mr Joyce's ex-wife Natalie's house, where he worried the female vote would hurt the Nationals.
"There will be backlash from Barnaby's private life, especially among women," Mr Tongue said.
"But this is Barnaby territory and he'll win easy."
Mr Joyce and his elderly parents, Jim, 95, and Marie, 87, voted in Woolbrook, a 45-minute drive east of Tamworth.
Marie Joyce told The Sunday Telegraph she would have voted for her son even if she were not his mother.
"He's truthful and he means what he says," Mrs Joyce said.
"He tells the truth, even when it hurts him."
Mr Joyce's partner is heavily pregnant with the couple's second child and has not joined the campaign trail.
Supporters of Mr Joyce's closest rival, Mr Blakester, were trying to make hay from Mr Joyce's messy divorce.
In the small town of Moore Creek, a 15-minute drive north of Tamworth, 70-year-old Dorothy Wasson was telling voters "only Adam Blakester cares about women".
"Barnaby has lost the trust of women after his affair," Ms Wasson said.
"It wouldn't have been so bad if he had a stray root, but he rubbed it in his wife's face, who is well respected and lives in the next town."
But Moore Creek voter Allissia Simpson, 36, dismissed the slur and voted Nationals.
"We're all human, we've all made mistakes," she said.
Mr Blakester's campaign lost momentum at a Sky News panel hosted in Tamworth on May 8 when he refused to rule out banning live cattle export.
"This issue has popped up a couple of time but it hasn't come up as a major issue," Mr Blakester told Sky News host Paul Murray.
"I'd take further advice from the electorate."