Member of the Week - Bill Yates
“If I’m going to do something, I do it as best I can. I live and breathe the National Party,” says Bill.
It’s easy to understand why Bill first became involved with the National Party. Raised on a dairy farm, with his father a strong Party advocate, Bill grew up surrounded by passionate members of the Country Party. And though he has moved around over the years, the values he then held remain pertinent today.
Following his childhood on the land, Bill moved to Taree where he worked on the railways as a train driver. As the only Country Party member there, Bill had a set of beliefs to hold on to. He says that whilst he lived in the Manning for a number of years, his dairy farm upbringing and National views made him feel as though he never truly left the land.
Bill laughs as he remembers a Governor General once imploring him, “I don’t understand your attitude son. You’re a railway man and I can’t see why you’re not Labor.”
Bill was fast to reply, explaining: “I think it’s just being raised on a farm, you learn common sense. And I find that common sense is more on the Conservative side of life.”
Fifty-seven years on, Bill fondly remembers his days spent as a young adult working in the background for the National Party. He notes that some of his most poignant memories and achievements are campaigning with Leslie Williams (elected in 2011) and David Gillespie (elected in 2013), whom he both now calls his close friends.
He prides himself on his ability to think for himself and to run any endeavour as you would a business for example, when he first became involved with the Party, no one was using corflutes effectively.
Bill recalls when he first attended a support gathering for Leslie many years ago and asked everyone to take corflutes home to display in front of their homes. When his request was met with disinterest, Bill said to the crowd “Well, it seems you’re all at the wrong place! This is a Nationals gathering!” It is a testament to his passion that all members left that gathering with corflutes in hand.
“They’ve been doing it since Alexander the Great put his face on coins. That’s what we did with David Gillespie and Leslie Williams; we had advertising everywhere and around every corner David or Leslie would be looking at you!” says Bill.
Since then, Bill has built hundreds of A-frames for corflutes and his incredible work for the Party in his retired life has helped the Nationals significantly.
Bill’s extraordinary passion and zest for life expands far beyond his involvement in the National Party. Bill attributes his “most wonderful life” to his late wife, Pamela, and their four children. A man of many interests, Bill is a life member of the Orchid Society in Queensland and NSW and has started soccer and cricket teams in various areas. He spent 14 rewarding years as the Secretary-Treasurer at Saint Patrick’s Cricket Club in Bathurst and built a 12 pitch wicket which remains there today.
Whilst Bill is a modest man, the fact that he dropped 12 kilograms while working on David Gillespie’s campaign reveals the extreme efforts he goes to. And although he isn’t always up and working from 4am to 8pm, travelling hundreds of kilometres, Bill invests his all in everything he does.
Bill recognises the importance of getting to know rural supporters. “Ninety percent of the roads in this country turn through National Party land!” he says. “We have to represent these country people and protect this land”.
Bill sees that the National Party has come up against big challenges in recent years and whilst the next election will also be a challenge, Bill has some advice.
He says that as a Party, The Nationals cannot sit in the background and become dormant. Australia needs to hear about what Barnaby Joyce does for the country people. A Party is only as strong as their members, and Bill believes that National Party members need to remain proud and involved. He’d like to thank the members who help out in the lead up to elections and on polling days, especially those with corflutes in their yards. These people are the reason Bill remains a passionate Party member today.