A PIVOTAL figure in the birth of One Nation has jumped ship to billionaire Clive Palmer’s party and will stand as a candidate in the Riverina.
Lex Stewart, a right-wing extremist and former senior One Nation figure, announced his candidacy for the Palmer United Party (PUP) recently during a whistlestop tour of Griffith.
Standing on a platform of protecting farmers and improving the government’s fiscal management, the Parkes resident was bullish about his chances of snatching the seat of Riverina from incumbent Michael McCormack.
“I think there’s a stampede away from the Nationals and people realise they will just get more of the same under a Coalition government,” Mr Stewart said. “The National Party has failed farmers and you only have to look at the citrus, dairy, peanut and sugar industries to see that.
“I think I’m a realistic chance of winning this seat based on the disillusionment with the major parties I’ve seen.
“In a seat like this, you’re either going to vote for the Liberal/Nationals with all their mistakes, or give some new fellow a go who is more businesslike.”
Mr Stewart said the major parties’ obsession with free trade was slowly suffocating a raft of agricultural industries.
“There’s a difference between free enterprise and free trade,” he said.
“We oppose unlimited free trade. Free trade is why many Griffith farmers are doing it tough and it’s why Ford has just announced it will close.
“Free trade must be seen in the global context. It’s foolish to drop our tariffs when other countries aren’t dropping theirs.”
Mr Stewart said he would be living in the electorate for at least the next three months and make regular visits to the MIA.
PUP has indicated it will run candidates in all federal electorates.
Mr Stewart’s candidacy brings to seven the number of candidates confirmed in the Riverina for the September 14 federal election.