Richie's political backflip

IF I were a betting man, I'd put some money on Richie Williamson running as a Nationals candidate in the upcoming Clarence by-election.

This may be perplexing to people who remember that six months ago Williamson was spruiking the line that only an independent could deliver good government for the Clarence and 17 % of the electorate swallowed it.

The fact that he is even contemplating running for the Nationals now is political opportunism at its best wrapped up in "outcome-driven" spin-doctoring.

It's amazing how fast water can pass under bridges when there's a political numbers game in play.

Just before the March election several high-profile Nationals MPs were calling Williamson a liar.

Williamson claimed that former member for Clarence, Steve Cansdell, and another North Coast MP (whom he refused to name) had offered him a deal to be endorsed for the 2015 election if he stood down as an independent candidate.

But the claims were emphatically denied by Mr Cansdell as well as Andrew Fraser (Coffs Harbour), Thomas George (Lismore) and Andrew Stoner (Oxley) and Cansdell labelled Williamson a desperate liar.

At the time Williamson stuck to his guns, pointing to his phone records as proof.

"It tells the electorate that the Nationals are taking the seat of Clarence for granted," he said.

Now here's the juicy bits considering the "conversations" Williamson is having this week.

"I have never been a member of the Nationals or any other party and I have no intention of becoming a member," he said at the time. "I think people are over the grubby party politics."

Williamson will put his hand up today to be re-elected mayor by his fellow councillors and judging by the lacklustre response to our interview requests from the normally talkative representatives, something is brewing - possibly a challenge from his long-time rival and former mayor Ian Tiley.

The official word from the mayor is that he can perform both duties (as mayor and sitting member) effectively at least in the short term - I have my doubts, and so should the councillors.

I believe Williamson's simultaneous play for mayor and member is motivated by self interest - it sounds better to be a mayor running for the seat than simply a councillor.

He should take the opportunity to concentrate on one role and do so as an independent.



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