THE ELECTION year has not yet begun, but Member for New England Tony Windsor has fired the first salvo against rival Richard Torbay in the contest for the federal seat.
Mr Windsor claimed he “had absolutely no respect” for his former protégé and accused him of acting as an agent in the aftermath of the 2010 federal election.
“[Mr Torbay] was ringing Labor people... and he was telling them, ‘I’ve got Windsor for you and I’m still working on [fellow independent Rob] Oakeshott’.”
He said he had not spoken to Mr Torbay during the 17-day period during negotiations to form government and claimed the Nationals candidate had previously “failed” a test over confidential information.
“I’m absolutely personally disgusted that someone would represent that sort of message when they haven’t been spoken to on a critical issue like the determination of government,” he said.
Mr Windsor also alleged Mr Torbay offered to grant Labor minority government with the support of other independents if the 2007 state election resulted in a hung parliament.
Mr Torbay said the accusations reminded him of “attacks” against him by the Labor Party when he first announced his decision to run for the Nationals in the federal seat in June.
“Now Tony Windsor is letting down the people of New England by indulging in smear, abuse and also making claims that are not true,” he said.“Tony would be better advised to stop taking guidance in personal abuse from the Labor Party and focus on the issues affecting our region in the lead-up to the federal election.”
Mr Torbay said he would not respond to what he described as “vicious personal attacks” or engage in similar tactics.
“The people of the New England deserve better,” he said.