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Saturday, May 24, 2014

Rob Oakeshott, The Independent Member for Lyne

I suspect history won't remember Rob Oakeshott kindly, the man who once held the fate of Australia in the palm of his hand.

He grew up on Sydney's North Shore and went to Barker College. After graduating from Sydney University he worked briefly at the Road Transport Forum before becoming a staffer for Mr Vaile, National Party Federal MP for Lyne.  Six years later he split from the Nationals to become an Independent.

Rob and Sara-Jane

Lyne is located on the Mid North Coast of New South Wales and includes local government areas around the beautiful Port Macquarie area.  In 2010, he was re-elected with a large majority by the anti-Labor electorate.  In fact the people of Lyne hated the Labor Party so much, their anti Labor/Green vote was the second highest in the country.

After the election, it became clear that neither Tony Abbott nor Julia Gillard could form government without the help of three independents, Oakeshott, Tony Windsor and Bob Katter.  As Katter was a rusted on conservative, it was down to Oakeshott and Windsor.

He said he weighed up all the sweeteners from both sides and intended "to do what was right for the country" and decided to go with Julia Gillard and the Labor Party - the exact opposite of what the people of his electorate wanted.

Around this time, while he and Windsor were being bribed from both sides, Oakeshott reveals that he was flat broke and to top it off, his wife Sara-Jane was about to give birth to their fourth child. A failed business venture resulted in having to sell the family home and rent, and he had to finance his 2010 election campaign on credit.

To his critics, Rob Oakeshott betrayed his conservative electorate to back a Labor government that turned out to be a shambles.  He said "he could have sided with the Coalition" but chose to protect his "integrity at the expense of his reputation," whatever that means.

Independents Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor

In June 2013, Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott announced they were quitting politics and wouldn't be standing at the next election.

Today, Rob is a house-husband and takes care of his four children while Sara-Jane works full time.