National Party dumps Richard Torbay over links to Obeid


National Party dumps Richard Torbay over links to Obeid

Alicia Wood and Barclay Crawford
The Daily Telegraph
March 20, 201312:12AM

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Dumped … Richard Torbay / Pic: Tim Barnsley Source: The Daily Telegraph

RICHARD Torbay has been forced to quit as the federal Nationals candidate for New England over revelations about links to disgraced former powerbroker Eddie Obeid.The independent state MP and former speaker was disendorsed by the Nationals last night.

Party chairman Niall Blair said: “The party has received information … of which we were not previously aware regarding Mr Torbay.

“The matters in question predate Mr Torbay’s membership of The Nationals. The party has asked Mr Torbay to withdraw his candidacy for New England and to resign from the NSW National Party, which he has done. We will immediately proceed to preselect a new candidate … to take the fight up to Tony Windsor and the Gillard Labor government.”

Standing as an independent, Mr Torbay won the NSW seat of Northern Tablelands in 1999 and then again in 2003 and 2007. In 2007 Mr Torbay accepted an offer by Premier Morris Iemma to become speaker of the house – a move supported by Eddie Obeid to ensure the Labor government ruled with a greater majority.

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Fairfax Media last week reported that Mr Obeid’s meeting diary revealed that Mr Torbay had frequent meetings with the now disgraced former Labor MP.

Federal independent MP Rob Oakeshott also made reference to the connection with Mr Obeid on Twitter as the news broke.

“As stated before, the reach of Obeid went beyond one political party. And is one of the reasons why I’m now independent MP. Good luck Tony Windsor,” Mr Oakeshott tweeted.

Mr Windsor, the member for New England, shed light on the connection between Mr Torbay and Mr Obeid in an article in the Australian Financial Review on Monday.

“It seems as though being advised and mentored by Obeid means he’s got a few questions to answer,” Mr Windsor had said.

It is understood Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner and senior MP Andrew Fraser pleaded with Mr Franklin not to pre-select Mr Torbay.

The decision prevented Nationals Senator Barnaby Joyce from running in the seat.

Mr Joyce last night indicated he would consider contesting the seat.

“Ben Franklin hand-picked Torbay and backed him in against the advice of senior MPs,” a source said.

“This is a critical error for Mr Franklin who has been too busy worrying about his own parliamentary ambitions rather than the good of the party.”

Mr Torbay said last night: “Given the current toxic political environment, I do not want to put my family, the community or myself through an ongoing smear campaign.”

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