Secret in-house polling by the National Party has prompted a radical review of its campaign tactics in the seat of former deputy prime minister and party leader Barnaby Joyce.
The Bug understands the polling conducted over recent days showed voters in the seat of New England were likely to desert the Nationals on May 18 and instead support independents or minor parties.
“The bad results follow the recent controversy over Barnaby’s role giving ministerial approval to an $80 million water buy-back which hasn’t helped settle voter concerns about him following the soap opera we saw last year that led him stepping down as party leader and deputy prime minister,” a National Party insider said.
“Basically the polling showed traditional conservative National Party supporters have reacted very, very badly to the whiff of scandal, either financial or personal such as all of the problems Barnaby brought down on himself with his marriage breakdown and then taking up with a new partner.
“We really need to recapture the level of admiration and support ‘the old Barnaby’ had with his image as a rough diamond and straight-talking sort of bloke.
“At the same time there is an element in the electorate who reckon he’s done well to root around for so long at his age and then shack up with a younger sheila and pop out a sprog to boot.
“So we have come up with a plan to run him as two candidates and both of him will run under the National Party banner.
“We’ll run Barnaby himself as a mainstream National Party candidate to appeal to our base voters.
“But we’ll also run his penis as a more racy, cheeky, downmarket sort of candidate to appeal to the other elements in the electorate.”
The National Party insider said the party had engaged legal experts to check the validity of the plan against the Constitution and the Electoral Act.
“They have advised that there is nothing that prohibits a body part of a person running for office at the federal level,” the insider said.
“If push comes to shove and we ended up in the Federal Court or even in the High Court, our lawyers reckon there’s a string of other pricks they can call as witnesses who served in the federal house.
“We’ve had no trouble convincing Barnaby of the merits of the plan and as we all know his penis is always willing to stand at the drop of an Akubra.
“The only real problem we face is a logistical one. We just need to secure enough householders across the New England electorate willing to have a corflute sign of Barnaby’s old fellow on a post in their front yard,” the insider said.