Rob Oakeshott, the independent who backed Labor in 2010, is back as an election candidate

He’s baaack! Former independent MP Rob Oakeshott is standing again. Photo: Cole Bennetts/Getty Images

This time three years ago, former federal MP Rob Oakeshott stood beside fellow independent Tony Windsor as the duo announced they were quitting politics.

After the pair played a critical role at the 2010 election in supporting the Labor Party to form a minority government, they left Canberra as Tony Abbott and the Coalition assumed power.

But three months ago, Windsor announced he was standing again, challenging deputy PM and Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce in the central-western NSW seat of New England, and today, Oakeshott announced he too was throwing his hat in the ring for the seat of Cowper, centred around the Coffs Harbour region on the NSW mid-north coast.

The former MP for Lyne for five years is changing seats because boundary redistribution has placed his home town of Port Macquarie in Cowper.

He is challenging the sitting Nationals MP Luke Hartsuyker.

Oakeshott, 46, says standing again was not a last minute decision, posting on Facebook that in 2013 “I didn’t think I would ever want to see politics again”.

Now he claims the reforms promised at the last election have “flat-lined over the past three years”.

“I was hoping the local MPs for the area would continue building on the community work around education and health, and that they would continue to focus on the many disadvantaged communities of our region,” Oakeshott said.

“I had more to give, and the politics was still in my blood. I feel an obligation to stand.”

Addressing the question of a hung parliament, he says that if elected and put in the same position as 2010, Malcolm Turnbull “would have first go”.

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