National Party members met inside the Uralla Showground Pavilion on Saturday morning to select Barnaby Joyce as their candidate for New England in the coming federal election expected early next year.
About 150 of the party faithful turned up to have their votes recorded at the meeting. Although Mr Joyce was pre-selected unopposed, he said it was a huge relief and that he was very humbled by it.
Mr Joyce said he took the pre-selection process very seriously and thought each one was important; so much so that it took him a number of days to decide what he was going to say to the meeting.
“And it’s not just for the National Party, but for the democratic principles of our nation. There are so many people on this planet who would love the right to have what we had here today at Uralla,” he said.
“There are many people in China who would love the right to be able to pick their local candidate; in Russia, in parts of Africa, in South America – there are so many people who just don’t have that right.
“To respect that right you have got to respect that people may like you or dislike you; [they] may want you to go forward or may not want you to go forward.”
Mr Joyce said he had had his triumphs, but admitted he had a couple of more recent disasters too.
“I take responsibility for those,” he said.
“But you continue on. Get back in the saddle and work as hard as you can. The democratic process means I go forward as a candidate and I’ll work as hard as I possibly can for that.
“I have always believed that the primary purpose of politics is public service. Overwhelmingly, what you do in your office is public service and helping people. Helping people with pensions, with delivery and with services; that’s what I want to focus on.”
Mr Joyce said he held no doubts there would be substantial candidates standing in New England at the coming election.
“I will take each one of them on their merit. I will not concentrate on them, I will concentrate on the job that I want to do for the New England. I will stand by my record and not stand by a commentary on them,” he said.