The New South Wales National party has issued a statement defending a television commercial in New England that shows a woman discussing her relationship with the independent candidate Tony Windsor and then rejecting his texts for “another chance”.
Windsor’s wife, Lyn, was offended by the advertisement and rang deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce’s campaign manager, James Treloar, and the Nationals’ state president, Bede Burke, to express her disgust.
“Mr Treloar conceded that the commercial wasn’t a vote winner for the Nationals and Mr Burke suggested it was just politics,” Lyn Windsor said.
But a statement from the National party’s state director, Nathan Quigley, said the Windsors were expressing “faux outrage” and the ad was clearly not suggesting Windsor had been unfaithful to his wife, as they had claimed.
“The ‘Not This Time, Tony’ ad is clearly tongue in cheek and in no way does it seriously suggest that Tony Windsor is or has ever been in a romantic relationship with the character in the commercial,” Quigley said. “Any reasonable person can see that immediately.
“Every care was taken to make sure this was clear from the very start of the commercial – all text messages are a conversation between Tony Windsor and New England.
“The commercial never suggests Mr Windsor has been unfaithful to his wife – it does suggest he has been unfaithful to his electorate.”
The ad pictures two women sitting in a cafe. One woman receives a text from Windsor saying: “Hey New England, how about another chance?”
The woman says Windsor wants her to “take him back”. She implies the relationship was “OK for a time” until “he ran off with Julia”. The woman says she misses him but “things have changed and I have moved on”.
Finally she texts back “not this time Tony”, which is the Nationals’ campaign slogan against the former independent who is challenging Joyce for his old seat.
Windsor says it sets a new low in National party campaigning and demanded the party apologise to his wife.
“I thought I’d seen everything in the National party’s bag of campaign tricks but this is a new low,” Windsor said. “They can throw whatever criticism at me but when it involves and upsets my family that’s another matter.
“I have been contacted by a number of people unrelated to my campaign concerned and disgusted at this television commercial.
“Mr Joyce and Mr Treloar should withdraw this offensive, gutter ad inferring philandering and apologise to Lyn.”
Quigley described the Windsors’ response as a “failing campaign” that was “clutching at straws” over the commercial.
“For starters, Tony Windsor currently has five attack ads on air in New England,” Quigley said. “The Nationals have one. An offer to Mr Windsor’s camp for both sides to withdraw all negative material has been declined.”