THE FOUNDER of Katter’s Australian Party has denied claims that he approached Richard Torbay to run as a federal candidate.
The announcement by Bob Katter (pictured) comes amid fresh attacks on Mr Torbay by a federal Environment Minister Tony Burke, who claimed the aspiring Nationals candidate misled him about his discussions with Tony Windsor during negotiations after the 2010 election.
Prior to announcing his decision to run for preselection with the Nationals earlier this month, Mr Torbay said he had been approached by a number of parties and had spoken to Mr Katter.
But Mr Katter (pictured) told The Express he had contacted Mr Torbay to ask him about Tony Windsor’s position on the live cattle export trade.
“I was discussing Tony Windsor’s change of attitude,” he said. “Mr Windsor voted against my proposal on live cattle, which I thought was unusual.
“So knowing his experience, I rang Richard and tried to find an explanation as to why Tony Windsor had changed from being one of the best members of parliament to not being one of the best.”
Mr Katter said he had asked Mr Torbay about his future career plans, but had not asked him to consider joining his party.
“If asking him what his plans were counts as an approach, then I’m a bloody Martian astronaut,” he said.
Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke told the media on Saturday that Mr Windsor had revealed to him that Mr Torbay did not speak to him during the 17-day negotiation period after the 2010 election.
“[Mr Torbay] was telling me he was in contact with Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor,” he said. “This week, I’ve spoken to Tony Windsor. He told me Richard Torbay didn’t talk to him at all during the negotiations.”
Mr Torbay said the latest allegations were more “dirty politics” and claimed he had always been upfront with the community.
“I expected a bit of dirty politics and I think there’ll be a bit more of that to come, particularly given the claims that were proven false last week, so they’re going to continue with this campaign and what I intend to do is continue to fully disclose everything to the community and allow them to determine the issues,” he said.
The claims from Mr Burke and Mr Katter come as the Nationals step up their offensive against independent Lyne MP Rob Oakeshott, with the launch of a fundraising website called ‘Get Rid of Rob’.
Nationals state director Ben Franklin said the website allowed users from across the country to donate to the Nationals’ campaign in Lyne, but said there were no plans to set up a similar website in New England against Tony Windsor.
“We think Tony Windsor is doing enough damage by himself without needing this website,” he said.
Mr Torbay said he would not be involved in personality politics.
“I’ve not stooped to the level of personality politics and I won’t, and I hope that that’s the case here for the upcoming federal election,” he said.