Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Oakeshott fires back over Labor stooge remarks

Mr Oakeshott says the Coalition is more interested in playing political games. (ABC) 

Oakeshott fires back over Labor stooge remarks

Independent MP Rob Oakeshott says there is no point in working with the Opposition as they are not serious about implementing policy.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has been hoping to lure the crossbench MPs to switch sides before the next election, but Mr Oakeshott says the Coalition is more interested in playing political games.

"I'll work with those that I think are serious about trying to get outcomes for this country in this next three-year window," he said.

"I'm not going to work with a political party to punch myself in the nose. I'm too busy to spend time doing that."

He says he has also been put off by personal attacks from Opposition MPs.

"There was a shadow treasurer going into my electorate on Friday and kicking the snot out of me. That's not the way to do business in any negotiation," he said.

"If they want to have a working relationship by all means engage, but engage in a sensible, respectful, mature way. Don't pretend to woo in public language and then do something else at another level.

"I've got plenty to do. There's lots of policy outcomes to be achieved in the next three years. I'll leave the playing of games to others."

'Toughen up'

Earlier Nationals MP Darren Chester said Mr Oakeshott needed to "toughen up" and rejected the claims of personal attacks.

"You've got to stand up for yourself," he said.

"I've never witnessed any personal attacks directed at Rob, I've seen attacks directed at his policy positions. He needs to toughen up a bit in that regard."

Mr Chester says he is pessimistic about the Coalition's chances of getting the independents onside.

"I think the suggestion they would ever switch sides begins with a 'once upon a time'. I think it's a fairy tale. It would never happen," he said.

"Mr Windsor and Mr Oakeshott have chosen their sides and at the next election the people of their electorates will decide whether that was a good decision or not."

He has also issued a warning to Mr Oakeshott over his decision to support Labor on the issue of rural youth allowance, saying his responsibilities are to his electorate and not the Labor Party.

"Rob faces a very real risk of being just seen as a Labor stooge - he seems to vote with the Labor Party almost inevitably," he said.

"Even on the motion on Monday, when he seconded the motion put forward by the Greens, he eventually sided with the Labor Party.

"I'd just suggest if he's fair dinkum about being independent, he should meet with both sides."