NEW ENGLAND VOTES: Police guard polls after bullet threat
A SINISTER threat to carry out a shooting at a country school today has marred the final day of Barnaby Joyce's campaign to win back his seat of New England.
Police will be on guard at polling booths in the northern NSW electorate of New England as tens of thousands of voters cast their ballots in today's by-election, which was triggered when the High Court ruled the Nationals leader was a dual citizen, forcing him to resign.
There are 17 contenders running but Mr Joyce is expected to comfortably regain his seat and be reinstated as Deputy Prime Minister, despite an at-times dramatic campaign that has included death threats and rumours about his personal life.
NSW Police confirmed the incident in a statement but would not say whether the note was linked to Mr Joyce's re-election bid.
The bullet was reportedly accompanied by graffiti warning of a "shooting" that would take place today.
"Police from the Oxley Local Area Command are investigating after the discovery of an item and graffiti at an educational facility in Quirindi," a NSW Police spokesman told The Australian.
The discovery followed an incident last month when a bullet was sent to Mr Joyce's former electorate office in Tamworth alongside a threatening note from an Adani mine protester.
Flanked by a security guard, Mr Joyce addressed the media in Tamworth yesterday and said he was "cautious" following the incidents.
"When people deliver a bullet to your office and say that they are going to use it on you, that means that they have got access to a bullet and they've probably got access to a firearm," Mr Joyce said.
"I can't judge when people put bullets under bricks and say that a certain event is going to occur. I can just be cautious and I've also got to be cautious of the people around me. What happens is if it's not me, what happens they hurt someone around me? I don't want that."
Mr Joyce also slapped down NSW Deputy Premier and fellow National John Barilaro over his "unhelpful" comments calling for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to resign.
"I have to admit I was very disappointed with the comment by the Deputy Premier this morning", he said. "I can't fathom how people could think a comment like that is of anything but harm. You're criticising the captain of your own team ... why would you do that?"
Despite weeks of bickering and infighting within the junior coalition partner, Nationals MPs flocked to Tamworth last night to support Mr Joyce ahead of today's crucial poll.