Rob Oakeshott with his family.
Rob Oakeshott with his family. .

He's back for another Shott

Former federal MP Rob Oakeshott will contest the seat of Cowper as an independent at this year's federal election.

Speculation about his intentions began to mount following Luke Hartsuyker's announcement in August that he would retire at the next election after representing the electorate on behalf of The Nationals for more than 17 years.

At the time, Mr Oakeshott didn't rule out running again but promised if he did, it would not be a repeat of his "ridiculously crazy" 2016 campaign.

Despite that short three-week campaign, he still recorded 45.44 per cent of the two-candidate vote in Cowper to Mr Hartsuyker's 54.56 per cent, a 9 per cent swing against The Nationals.

After more than 20 years in politics at a state and federal level, Mr Oakeshott said this was his only election loss. "I've stood at eight elections and won seven of them. Make no mistake I am in this to win it."

Former Nationals member turned independent MP for Lyne Rob Oakeshott famously helped Julia Gillard form government after the hung parliament of 2010.

"When I first stood 20 years ago the message was Independents can't deliver but you don't hear this any more because of a clear track record of results. We don't get caught up in games and work with either side no matter what."

He has identified the Coffs Harbour Bypass as an election defining issue.

"Coffs Harbour should be exploding at being told that to get it to happen by 2020, they've got to drop three tunnels - that's rubbish.

"I go back to the times of the Taree bypass and the situation in Coffs Harbour sniffs of a 30-year rush job. The community deserves it both ways - on time with all three tunnels."

He says experience in navigating the 'wicked maze of public officials, departments and multi-layered bureaucracy' is critical for results in the coming five years, and believes this is an important point of difference compared to first time candidates.

"I am particularly looking forward to reconnecting with many I have worked with before, as well as embracing the fresh challenge of offering the Macleay, Nambucca and Coffs regions their first ever Independent MP in the history of the seat." 

Mr. Oakeshott is 49 years old, and lives in Port Macquarie with his wife Sara-Jane and four children.  He is a contractor with the United Nations Development Program, and studies medicine at the University of NSW campus in Port Macquarie.

Sara-Jane is a teacher at the local Hastings Secondary College.  

"I have lived in and around this region almost all my life.  I worry about the same things that worry most locals, and I share their frustrations when governments fail to respond to the issues that matter to us."  

Underinvestment in local infrastructure, aged care and education not keeping pace with big city electorates, and the need for small business reform to drive local economies are some of the urgent concerns Oakeshott says he will address when he returns to parliament.    



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