When One Nation candidate Rod Roberts arrived on the campaign trail in Bega this week I thought the best place for our interview was at a local cafe owned by a Lebanese Australian.
The 56-year-old former police detective, real estate agent, farm owner and current small business owner from Goulburn was keen for a coffee, so I thought exposing him to the changing face and the potential of rural Australia would be a refreshing place to start our conversation.
The Sydney “born and bred”, lifelong Liberal Party voter is the party’s upper house candidate for the March state election, and will sit at number two on the ticket behind Mark Latham.
He said he feels he is part of the “forgotten right”, which is quickly spawning new political parties and independent candidates.
“I’m tired of being lied to and treated like a fool. The major parties are cozying up to big companies, corporate donors and the trade union movement,” he said.
“The two main parties think we came down in the last shower.
“So, instead of sitting down and carrying on about it, I thought I’d make a stand,” he said.
A self-described political “novice”, he said he’s at a time in his life when he should be putting his feet up and relaxing, but instead is self-funding a campaign to poke and prod the major players from a seat on the crossbench.
He said the NSW upper house is “arrogant”, and Gladys Berejiklian has wasted a multibillion dollar surplus on the “light rail fiasco” and the knock down and rebuild of the Sydney Football Stadium..
“There’s this mysterious thing called a tax payer. It’s our money, not the governments,” he said.
“There’s kids sitting in demountable classrooms with not enough computers, a shortage of nurses in hospitals, and hospitals are not fully staffed or operational.”
Mr Roberts said that instead of running as an independent, he chose a political party whose values sit with his own, which he said was based around looking at the “factual evidence”, much like a detective would.
“I call it the party of the ordinary person,” he said.
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The party is seeking credibility on the political stage, however kickback at the recent recruitment of Emma Eros has forced Mr Latham to even call some of his own voter base the “Lunar-Right”.
After thanking me for my time, Mr Roberts raised the controversial issue of immigration, an issue high on the party’s agenda. He said he isn’t racist, and while he said he didn’t know the religion of the man who had kindly served us coffee, he said he is “contributing to society” and the party is okay with that.
The question is, come March will Mr Roberts have the influence he seeks?
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