THE Nationals have launched a blitz on Labor-held seats in northern NSW, believing the electorates are ripe for assault because of electricity price rises from the carbon tax.
Over the past two days Nationals MPs have targeted two ALP-seats in northern NSW - Page, held by Janelle Saffin, and Richmond, held by Justine Elliot. Both seats are in play, the party says, following double-digit swings to the Nationals at the state election.
As well as the impact of the carbon price, the Nationals have picked up rising angst about general business costs.
Spearheaded by their leader, Warren Truss, one group of MPs, including Mark Coulton and John Forrest, worked their way through the seats, visiting a commercial nursery in Rous and a plywood factory outside Grafton.
Elsewhere senators Fiona Nash and John Williams charged into Lismore and Casino. Senator Barnaby Joyce, who wants to move to the lower house, joined the team late.
Mr Truss, however, says it is unlikely Senator Joyce will stand in Richmond or Page.
It is not the first or last blitz the party has run, with campaigns held in independent-held Lyne (Rob Oakeshott) and New England (Tony Windsor) yielding positive results, the Nationals say.
But they admit Mr Windsor will be harder to topple than Mr Oakeshott. New England could be the seat Senator Joyce runs in if his plan to win preselection in the Queensland seat of Maranoa fails.
The preselection battle has the potential to get ugly with the long-serving MP Bruce Scott understood to be unhappy with the push to oust him.
As part of their blitz, six MPs toured the Big River timber companies plywood factory outside Grafton. The managing director, Jim Bindon, said the carbon tax would push its energy costs up by $200,000 a year.
He said 24-hour manufacturing businesses, like his, would all suffer energy price rises because the flat rate charged on energy would double their off-peak electricity bill.
''The idea of manufacturing around the clock to maximise efficiency is challenged by the fact that off-peak power rates will almost double,'' Mr Bindon said.
Ms Saffin said the Nationals had represented the electorate for decades and achieved nothing. ''In opposition it is no different,'' she said. ''If they were really concerned about electricity prices they should talk to the state government.''
She had delivered on everything she had promised to do and was ready for any challenge to her position.
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