A former lobbyist for the controversial Shenhua watermark coal mine is set to become the Nationals’ next federal president.
Larry Anthony is expected to be elected unopposed this weekend at a party meeting, despite a campaign against it by some members of the Nationals’ federal parliamentary wing.
The NSW Greens have slammed Mr Anthony’s pending appointment because of his links to the $1 billion NSW mine through the consultancy firm SAS.
Greens mining spokesman Jeremy Buckingham said it would come to the detriment of farmers.
“The National Party have sold their soul and sold out farmers,” he said in a statement on Wednesday.
But Mr Anthony, a former Howard government minister, says the contract with Shenhua finished in July and the firm no longer represents the company.
He denied there was a conflict of interest.
“As far as my role is concerned, our firm no longer represents them,” he told AAP.
“I’ve come off all the (NSW and federal lobbyist) registries.”
Mr Anthony said his would be a voluntary, administrative role and he was focused on serving regional Australians and boosting the Nationals’ parliamentary team.
“I’m committed and I understand the Nationals,” he said.
Deputy Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce and NSW Nationals senator Fiona Nash have both come out against the $1 billion Shenhua mine near Gunnedah.
Mr Anthony said he does not envision internal problems arising from this post.
“There’s always going to be different views,” he said.
“I’m voluntarily doing this and I voluntarily didn’t renew those contracts.”
Labor agriculture spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon criticised the pending appointment and Mr Joyce’s silence on the Shenhua mine.
“Barnaby Joyce has deserted his electorate on this issue,” he told AAP.
Mr Joyce was unavailable for comment.
Mr Anthony served as Nationals MP for Richmond, NSW between 1996-2004.
He held the community services and children and youth affairs portfolios.