New Liberal candidate for Hume Angus Taylor plans to bring his own brand of leadership to the table if he wins the opportunity to fill retiring stalwart Alby Schultz’s position at the next federal election.
The 44-year-old management consultant convincingly won the party’s pre-selection two weeks ago with the backing of Alby himself, and an impressive list of referees that included Opposition leader Tony Abbott, NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell, shadow ministers Andrew Robb and Malcolm Turnbull, and former NSW Premier Nick Greiner, among others.
The father of four moved from Sydney to Goulburn six months ago with wife Louise and children Hamish, 13, Olivia, 11, Adelaide, 9 and Richard, 6. It appears the move is not just for show, with plans to open an office in Goulburn and three of his children attending a local school. The eldest boards at the Kings School in Parramatta, following the family tradition.
He told the Tribune every leader had their own leadership style and approach, and he considered ‘maverick’ Alby a great mentor.
“The thing that Alby’s done that I’ve learned from is that he cares deeply about the people,” he said.
“The thing that I can bring is my experience across a broad range of areas; I’ve lived in the bush for the best part of 30 years, as has my wife, as well as having spent time in the city. I’ve worked with small business and large business and part of the public sector.
“I’ll be making extensive use of that experience I’ve got and bringing that to bear for Hume.”
His candidacy has almost certainly set the stage for a three-cornered contest for the seat of Hume. Unlike Alby, a vocal critic of the Nationals, Mr Taylor aims to work co-operatively with the party’s Coalition partners to oust “a bad Labor government”.
“The Nationals are our Coalition partners and friends, and while it doesn’t always look like it, it’s a fact and the job now is to put a bad government out of power,” he said.
He plans to focus on transport, infrastructure, health and agriculture when it comes to Yass constituents. The Barton Highway bottleneck is at the top of his list.
“I’ve driven that road for 30 years, it has 10,000 vehicle movements each day – almost as much as the Hume Highway, which is dual carriageway – and it’s extraordinary to me that the problem hasn’t been fixed.
“Yass’ greatest asset is its location, and sitting on a choked-up Barton Highway is not the best way to make the most of that.
“I have not found one road in NSW that has had so little investment – perhaps the Pacific [Highway]. It’s such an important and easy fix and it will make such a difference to that region.”
Another infrastructure problem he’s planning on tackling is the heavy vehicle traffic on the M5 Hume Highway, with plans to revive the railway freight system.
“We’ve got to get our container freight corridors fixed and get the trucks off the Hume and onto the rail line.”
He was also particularly aware of Yass’ high cost of living.
“It’s a big deal for Yass, people there have faced rising land and rental costs ahead [more so than] of other regions. And the energy price increases we’ve seen in the past couple of years will pale in comparison to what we can expect in the next few years.”
Health and hospital services were also areas he would focus on – particularly the “narrowing of services,” including maternity.
“Maternity comes through loud and clear as a big deal for that area.” Broader issues at stake were the cost benefits of making clients travel to services in other areas.
“It’s a big deal for pregnant people and older people to travel that far down the congested Barton Highway [to services in Canberra]”. Governments failed to take into account the cost of transport to get there from regional centres.
Raised on a property in the Cooma region, Mr Taylor is passionate about returning the country’s economic spotlight back to agriculture.
“Unnecessary constraints on use of land and water for farming are hampering production and investment. Infrastructure has deteriorated: roads, railway lines, telecommunications and hospitals have suffered from underinvestment. Agriculture has been treated as a sunset industry, as governments have failed to invest in rural research and development, and education.
“Regional Australia is providing most of the economic growth in Australia, not the cities …”
Ways to do that included getting the most out of our agricultural land, and ‘Yass has some of the best agricultural land in the whole electorate.’
Mr Taylor is a Sydney University honours graduate in law and economics, a 1991 Rhodes Scholar and has studied an Oxford Masters degree in economics. He’s been a Liberal Party member for 18 years. He is also co-founder of Growth Farms Australia, with $300 million in agricultural assets under management across NSW, and a Rabobank farm leadership programs director. As a triathlete he has competed for Australia in the 2009 (40-45 age group) world championships.
He was confident his wife and young children were up for the challenge ahead in terms of the time needed away from home serving constituents.
“I know what it’s like to be brought up in a family passionate about politics, where it’s discussed around the dinner table, and I actually think that’s a really healthy thing for kids.
“Kids take their lead from their parents. They are coping very well. Kids are robust and our kids are involved in a lot of community sports and activities.”
His grandfather, Sir William Hudson, was Commissioner of the Snowy Mountains Scheme and had a firm hand in shaping his community service outlook.
“I’ve been brought up with a strong notion of public service. My grandfather ran the Snowy scheme and I’ve been raised with the old-fashioned idea that public service is the most noble of things for a human being to do.” It was how he planned to “leave my mark” in Hume.
“I’ll be doing what I’ve always done; resolving issues that people are facing in their day-to-day lives. I’m looking forward to hearing more from the people of Yass.”