Rural voters want federal politicians to get back to work on issues such as power prices and drought assistance.
That was the message from farmers at the Commonwealth Bank AgQuip field days at Gunnedah NSW, as news broke of a federal Liberal leadership challenge on Tuesday.
The catalyst was a challenge from Peter Dutton to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
The vote went to Mr Turnbull 48 to 35 but at the time of press, Mr Turnbull’s leadership appeared terminal.
More than half his party was in open revolt, he was struggling to command a majority in the Lower House and another challenge was all but inevitable.
But voters at AgQuip were less worried about the leadership than the big issues impacting the bush.
Alan Harnett, Toowoomba, Queensland said he was very surprised Mr Dutton challenged Mr Turnbull, and highlighted energy policy as priority issue for the government.
“I was very surprised. I think Peter Dutton has done a fantastic job in his portfolio. But I got a shock today, I didn’t think he would be stupid enough to do that,” Mr Harnett said.
“I hope they can get this legislation through for power pricing. I get so frustrated when the parliament is fragmented with backbenchers and independents, it is so difficult to get legislation through.”
Ron Fuller, Gunnedah, NSW said he thought “somebody” should have challenged Mr Turnbull. He highlighted the banking inquiry as one of the PM’s failings.
“The banking inquiry was held back for two years. It had to happen and he (Mr Turnbull) was a banker. He must have known what was going on before. This power prices issue, it doesn’t matter matter how much you jump up and down. They sold it!
“The people who bought have to get their money back. Now the government can’t just say they’ll give us cheap power. How does that work?”
Paul Hartley, Gunnedah, said the leadership turmoil had been caused by a collective failure of parliament to focus on the community’s needs.
“I think they should pick a good leader to start with and we wouldn’t have this problem. Somebody that will work for the people,” Mr Hartley said.
“Once they start working for the people more than themselves we will do alright in this country. But they need to get their act together. I am talking about the greenies, government and the rest.”
Ben Howson, Tumberlowwi, Coonabarabran, NSW, did not rate the leadership challenge as a significant issue and said the government should focus more on drought support.