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Oakeshott hits back at Nat's 'smear' campaign

FIRED UP: Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull with Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce (left) and Independent candidate for Cowper Rob Oakeshott.
FIRED UP: Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull with Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce (left) and Independent candidate for Cowper Rob Oakeshott. TRACEY NEARMY

ELECTION campaigns are known to get heated, but in the federal electorate of Cowper things are turning ugly.

Independent candidate for Cowper Rob Oakeshott has become the centre of a National Party "smear campaign" aimed squarely at his finances, his past-political record and some questionable websites.

The allegations have been levelled from the highest ranks of the National Party, with its leader, Barnaby Joyce, labelling Oakeshott's candidacy as "a money grab" for electoral funding.

They're allegations refuted by Mr Oakeshott, who says the campaign tactics are more indicative of the National Party's own "fixation with money".

The dirty tactics coincide with recent polls suggesting Oakeshott could clinch victory on Saturday, and the National Party was now in damage control and "running scared".

Speaking to The Advocate this week, Mr Joyce said Oakeshott stands to take home $2.62 from each vote cast at the ballot box.

It's the same electoral guideline that had the National Party receive $3.1million in tax payer funds after the 2013 Federal Election.

"The reason we get $2.62 per vote is that it pays for our campaign, it goes towards advertising," Mr Joyce said.

"Let's say Oakeshott gets 20,000 votes - that's a bit better than $50,000, tax free, and it will probably cost him $10,000 to run.

"$40,000 for two weeks work is a handy job."

Mr Oakeshott - who is running his campaign predominately on social media - said he would incur costs, but financial return would be put "into the kitty" for future elections.

The National Party has also reverted to television ads, e-mails, and letter-box leaflets that reference Oakeshott's support in 2010 of then Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

The leaflet urges voters to "help us stop Rob Oakeshott sneak back into parliament".

In a campaign e-mail obtained by The Advocate, the National Party states "it's time for Rob Oakeshott to sit back and enjoy his two separate parliamentary pensions."

The email - signed by the NSW Nationals campaign director Nathan Quigley - then asks recipients to donate $17 to the National Party.

Tactics also extend to the sphere of web domains, with claims the National Party have purchased the wesbite - www.roboakeshott.com.au.

The domain is registered to the National Party's NSW branch and was last modified on Thursday.

It's separate to the Oakeshott-titled faux website that features tips to combat erectile dysfunction.

When asked about the sites, the sitting member for Cowper and Nationals candidate Luke Hartsuyker said he was "far too busy to be mucking around with that sort of thing".

Mr Oakeshott said the sites pertained "to political interference and sabotage".

"It raises all kinds of questions. I want my name back," he said.

"There is quite obvious political obsession with them towards me.

"I just wish they were so obsessed about the community and they would get on with delivering some good things for the local area rather than trying to do political sabotage."

Topics:  barnaby joyce coffs harbour cowper federal election 2016 rob oakeshott



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