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North East rail advocates are campaigning for former Transport Minister Darren Chester to return to the job, saying it would be “restorative justice” after the “autocratic Joyce regime” sacked him in favour of Barnaby Joyce himself.
Border Rail Action Group chairman Bill Traill said Mr Chester was described as an “outstanding” minister by Malcolm Turnbull, only to be sacked for “no reason”.
“Minister Chester was involvement was very, very positive,” he said.
“Firstly, with the allocation of $100 million to the rail corridor which was sorely needed and in his sensitive negotiations with the Victorian government minister, which at the time was a work in progress.
“That came to an abrupt end when Joyce self-appointed himself to the transport position.”
Mr Traill said while it was not known on Sunday who would be the Nationals’ leader after Monday’s party meeting, the appointment of front-runner and local Riverina MP Michael McCormack could benefit the trail.
“He would seem on the face of it someone we could rely on to get Chester back in the place he belongs, but there are all sorts of elements associated with it,” Mr Traill said.
He said in the interest of future stability of transport planning, BRAG wants the Nationals to recognise Mr Chester’s “denied right to the transport position” and petition their new leader.
Mr Traill said BRAG was confident the Infrastructure and Transport portfolio would return to the Nationals, after the Prime Minister temporarily appointed Liberal MP John McVeigh after Mr Joyce announced his resignation.
Mr Chester has publicly backed Mr McCormack, but said he does not know whether he would be returned to cabinet.
“I've no idea if I will return to the ministry this week - those decisions will be made by the leadership team after Monday's meeting,” he wrote on his personal Facebook page.
Mr Chester also said politics was a “team sport” and the best thing he could do currently was work to unite the coalition.
This article first appeared on www.bordermail.com.au
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