Barnaby Joyce claims he is being “stalked” as the New England byelection is getting increasingly nasty.
The former Nationals leader and deputy prime minister was confronted by a man in an Inverell hotel on Monday night and was quizzed about his private life, Fairfax Media reported on Tuesday.
Mr Joyce reportedly flicked the man’s hat off his head during the uncomfortable confrontation.
“We’ve had death threats and now we’ve got stalkers,” Mr Joyce said.
“The campaign is becoming dirty and people are sending people around to stalk you.
“That’s disappointing, you know. I’ll be frank, they’re not coming from the Labor Party, they’re coming from other people.”
A man also confronted him recently in Glen Innes, in the wake of rumours about his personal life.
“I’m going to keep my private issues private,” Mr Joyce said.
Earlier this month, Mr Joyce was reportedly sent a bullet accompanied by a threatening note to his former electorate office in Tamworth. Media reported that the subject of the message was about the infrastructure loan the federal government planned to extend to mining company Adani.
The former minister, who was forced to resign from Parliament over his dual New Zealand citizenship, told constituents in a letter last month they would hear “a lot of other people – many of whom have nothing to do with our electorate – making all sorts of misleading claims for political purposes”.
“I don’t care what they say. My job is to look after you first and foremost,” he wrote.
Meanwhile, the ABC has reported that Mr Joyce may be taking the race for New England for granted.
“Barnaby Joyce believes that he is going to win this seat on his reputation and he doesn’t need to campaign,” CountryMinded Party candidate, Peter Mailler told the broadcaster.
“His strategy is to not engage in the conversation because we are going to ask questions about issues that he can’t answer.”
Another, independent candidate Rob Taber who came second to Mr Joyce at the 2013 election, said the former deputy PM’s campaign had “an odd feel”.
“It’s like a ‘Claytons’ election’; the election to have when you aren’t really having an election,” Mr Taber told 7.30.
“It’s just got a funny feel about it, this campaign, much different to the last two I stood for, and I just can’t work out what’s going on.”
The byelection will be held on Saturday.
Barnaby Joyce hits back at critics
– with ABC