Reflecting on 2016
2016 will be remembered as the year that The Nationals fought for, and secured, the vital seats to keep the Coalition in government.
In New South Wales we set about the task of securing all seven seats that we held including very strategic campaigns in Calare, Cowper, Page and my own New England, where concerted attacks were made by so-called independents.
Across Australia, The Nationals increased our seats by one; and the Coalition secured government by a margin of one. That equation says everything about the role The Nationals play in ensuring a Coalition government in this country.
We secured 22 MPs and Senators. That was our best result in 20 years and ensured, for the first time in 60 years, that The Nationals were allocated five Cabinet positions.
These successes are due to our members, supporters and donors. And I give special acknowledgment to our ‘killer canaries’ in New South Wales who don the bright yellow Nationals t-shirts and pound the pavements with letterbox drops, stand guard at polling booths with how-to-vote cards, and enthusiastically set-up information stalls at shopping centres, local shows and street corners. Thank-you, to each of you.
In my role as Leader of the Nationals I am also indebted to fellow New South Welshman and Deputy Leader, Senator Fiona Nash, along with our team of MPs and Senators who, day in and day out, do the hard slog on behalf of regional New South Wales.
And when we haven’t had the successes we had hoped, such as the recent Orange by-election, we are indebted to our members and supporters for ensuring we fought as hard and effectively as possible in very tough local circumstances.
I congratulate John Barilaro on becoming Leader of The Nationals and Deputy Premier, and I look forward to working hand-in-glove with our NSW state colleagues throughout 2017.
I also pay tribute to Troy Grant for his leadership that has kept The Nationals very strong in the New South Wales parliament. Under Troy’s leadership at last year’s State Election, in the face of an almost 10 per cent swing against the Coalition, The Nationals held their ground to retain all sitting members while our Coalition partner lost 12 seats.
To our State Chairman Bede Burke and the executive of the NSW Nationals along with our State Director Nathan Quigley and his team at HO, we are also thankful for the dedication and professionalism they offer that keeps The Nationals strong across regional New South Wales.
Both Natalie and I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year for 2017. For us, it will be a cherished window to spend time with our daughters and extended family; it will be a time to ‘recharge the batteries’. Importantly though, Christmas must not be downplayed as some sort of "happy holiday season"; it is actually Christmas which has a much deeper meaning than having a few more beers or wines than usual or eating more treats than usual. It marks the birth of our Lord; and we must keep an eye out for those who don't have a family at Christmas because, for them, it can be the loneliest time of the year.
We hope Christmas brings you joy and rest; and pray it is a safe one for you, your family and all Australians.
Merry Christmas and God Bless,