3 July 2024

'I'm Mr Wagga': Fang unimpressed by Liberal backhander as the Coalition avoids a split

| Chris Roe
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Mark Speakman and Wes Fang remain unapologetic after a tense weekend for the Coalition. Photo: NSW Parliament.

The NSW Coalition has decided to stay together following a standoff over the Opposition Leader’s decision to sanction outspoken Nationals MLC Wes Fang, but it seems there is little love in the marriage.

NSW Liberal Leader Mark Speakman summoned all party MPs to a crisis meeting in Sydney on Tuesday (2 July) before striking a last-minute deal with defiant Nationals Leader Dugald Saunders.

The junior Coalition partner will accept the demotion of Mr Fang for last week’s social media attack on Mr Speakman and the two leaders reaffirmed their commitment and pledged “to hold the Minns Labor Government to account”.

“The Hon Wes Fang MLC has been removed from his shadow assistant minister roles,” they confirmed in a joint statement.

“Our job and our common objective are to hold this bad government to account and to offer a strong alternative.”

READ ALSO NSW Nationals dig in over Fang ‘firing’ as the Liberals threaten a Coalition split

The stoush kicked off late last week when Mr Fang took to Facebook to criticise Mr Speakman after only learning of an official visit to Wagga Wagga via social media.

Mr Fang had not been invited to join the photo-op in his hometown and described the move as “underhanded” and openly questioned “the longevity of ‘Speako’s leadership”.

When a furious Mr Speakman informed his opposite number in the Nationals that Fang would be stripped of his roles within the shadow cabinet, Mr Saunders stood his ground and questioned the Liberal leader’s authority to make such a move.

READ ALSO ‘Un-Australian and un-Wagga-like’: McCormack tells pro-Palestine campaigner to mind his language

In a media conference on Tuesday (2 July), Mr Speakman said that he would not tolerate bad behaviour from any of “his team”.

“Last week, we saw behaviour that was unacceptable and fell short of the standards that the public are entitled to expect,” he said.

Mr Speakman shrugged off the suggestion that he should have notified Mr Fang of his Riverina visit declaring that Mr Fang was not the Member for Wagga.

“He happens to be a Nationals MP in the upper house who claims to live there,” Mr Speakman said.

When asked to clarify whether he doubted Mr Fang’s connections to Wagga he added, “He gives Wagga as his address. You’d have to ask him that question.”

Wes Fang has shared photos from his time at school in Uranquinty and Mount Austin after Mark Speakman questioned his Wagga roots. Photo: Wes Fang.

In response, an unrepentant Mr Fang said it showed how “out of touch” the Opposition Leader is.

“I was born in Wagga, raised in Wagga and Uranquinty. I did all my high school at Mount Austin High School. I’ve moved back to Wagga after having served in the Army and for child flight in 2008 and I’ve been here ever since. My kids are at school here in Wagga,” he said.

“Obviously, during Parliament, we spend some time in Sydney, so that’s a small part of the role, but the majority of my time is in Wagga.

“I cannot be more Wagga and around the Parliament, the joke is that I am ‘Mr Wagga’, because every time there’s a mention of Wagga, everyone looks to me waiting for the cheer that inevitably comes out of my mouth,” he said.

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What is it with the Wagga Liberals and Nationals at the State level, that they throw us self-serving rent seekers.
Sadly, most people are so brainwashed from birth, they vote for 2nd rate chancers at the State level.

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