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9 People Who Want You To Know What Rural Australia Needs This Election

Jobs, growth, and stopping the mines.

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The rural NSW town of Tamworth is in deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce's electorate of New England.

AAP

The seat used to be held by independent MP Tony Windsor.

When Windsor was last in power, he supported the minority Labor government of Julia Gillard, and many people in this largely conservative farming electorate haven't let him forget it.

Windsor is coming back from retirement at this election to try to knock off Joyce, armed with a friendly-uncle persona, a dog who has a Twitter account, and an office just two doors down from Joyce's.

Tonight, the ABC's Q&A program will be recorded live from Tamworth's town hall, and Joyce and Windsor will go head to head. They'll be questioned by 750 feisty New England voters.

BuzzFeed News went to the home of the Golden Guitar to ask the Tamworth locals what will sway their vote come July 2.

Flickr: katie_hannan

Recently, this area has seen conflict between traditional farming communities and companies that want to extract coal seam gas and build new coal mines on agricultural land.

Tony Windsor has been criticised for selling land to mining companies in the past, however he has defended the sale, saying it's the type of arid land that should be sold for mines.

The age of those protesting the mining industry has also dropped, with groups like Liverpool Plains Youth forming two years ago with a focus on promoting agriculture and stopping the development of the Shenhua mine in the Liverpool Plains.

Climate change, jobs, and health funding are also areas of concern.

1. Outside Tamworth's war memorial town hall, the president of Manilla Community Renewable Energy Co, Emma Stilts, said the biggest issue facing people in the country was sustainability.

Brad Esposito for BuzzFeed News

"Community owned renewables make sustainable rural communities."

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2. Around the corner on the town's high street, Wesley Williams, a volunteer worker, said Tamworth "need[s] more jobs". He also cares about the environment.

4. Ailis Jenkins was shopping with her mother when she told BuzzFeed News that water conservation is the most important issue to her this election.

5. And year 11 student Jackson, 16, said he'd like to see more jobs for young people.

Brad Esposito for BuzzFeed News

"What are you out doing today?" asked BuzzFeed News.

"Nothing," said Jackson, "I can't get a job".

6. Husband and wife Scott and Lynda Townsend had differing opinions on the important things facing New England. Lynda was worried about cuts to health and aged care services in the area ...

9. And 67-year-old Pat, while happy with Barnaby Joyce, wants fewer people in university and more people working.

Brad Esposito for BuzzFeed News

"Eighty per cent of the people in university don't need to be there", he said. "Take them out of university and make them work at the abattoir, or go fruit picking."

Brad Esposito is a news reporter for BuzzFeed and is based in Sydney, Australia.

Contact Brad Esposito at bradley.esposito@buzzfeed.com.

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