Emerging anti-Nationals organisation Anyone But Nats will start the new year with $60,000 in the bank and a mission to take on the perennial rural party at the NSW and federal elections, with Barnaby Joyce as its prime target.
The group's foundation, and growing support, comes after the Nationals' scandal-plagued 2018, starting with former leader Mr Joyce's affair and ending with Mallee member Andrew Broad's "sugar baby" controversy, where the former assistant minister sent messages to a younger woman with the online alias "Sweet Sophia Rose".
Anyone But Nats will support viable candidates in Nationals-held seats. Beginning in the NSW town of Mudgee in February, the group will run a series of community forums at regional centres in key electorates to whip up support, including Armidale, Tamworth, Gunnedah, Narrabri and Broken Hill.
Anyone But Nats co-founder Rohan Boehm believes the National Party is facing an existential election.
"Those blokes aren't untouchable," he said of the party's elected MPs. "And they will be unelectable in the face of new attitudes. The idea that regional people are somehow backwards, non-progressive, non-interested and not terribly smart is a fabrication based on the sort of people that represent us.
"A change is on the way, and we're facilitating that. We're creating a space."
Anyone But Nats is backed by fellow co-founder Charles Tym, an IT businessman who contributed $20,000 to the group at its outset.
Mr Boehm says he is talking to prospective independent candidates "all the time", many of whom are asking Anyone But Nats to run supporting forums and fundraisers.
Key issues motivating the candidates include the National Party's support for coal seam gas projects, discontent with the party's water management and Murray-Darling basin plan, and the belief that this year's scandals underline the party's "arrogance".
"Women are incandescent about this sort of behaviour - it's the arrogance, I guess," Mr Boehm, who ran as an independent candidate in the NSW seat of Barwon in 2015, said.
"The scandals to me are not the problem, they're really the symptom ... Particularly women and younger voters, they just find that the Nats have created a political class that is totally against their own approach to life."
"There hasn't been any movement into the 21st century. Their approach and their arrogance seems to be moored in the '50s or '60s."
There are signs Anyone But Nats could gain traction: in August, National Farmers' Federation chief Fiona Simpson countered the Nationals' position by declaring climate change was worsening drought conditions in Australia.
"It is the effect of climate change we need to be aware of that makes the impacts of a drought even worse," she said.
Nationals seats have progressive credentials, too: a majority of all federal Nationals seats voted "yes" in the same-sex marriage plebiscite.
Party leader Michael McCormack was not fazed by the emergence of Anyone But Nats.
"Minor and independent candidates, and those who represent a single protest issue, have come and gone over time, and apart from making big promises that they can't deliver on and making lots of noise, they do little other than dilute the voice and influence of regional Australians in federal politics," he said.
Mr Boehm, who lives in Narrabri - bordering the Pilliga forest, where Santos operates a controversial coal seam gasfield - said the Nationals' support for coal seam gas was a flashpoint in regional communities, and one that challenging candidates will look to exploit.
"For the last 10 years the Nats have been very, very clearly in favour of coal seam gas," Mr Boehm said. "The Nats have been absolutely going really hard on supporting new mines and new gas fields, and the community has been universally against those proposals."
Mr McCormack said his party's approach to coal seam gas was level-headed.
"Rather than outright opposition to coal seam gas, the Nationals have fought to protect the interests of land-holders, and have a policy where coexistence and scientific evidence are guiding principles," he said.
In the federal election, Anyone But Nats will primarily target Mr Joyce's seat, New England.
"I think that with the right candidate or two in New England he's vulnerable," Mr Boehm said.
"He's probably the most important electorate to change next time around."
Mr Joyce has a 23-point buffer, helped by the fact former New England independent Tony Windsor did not run against him in the 2017 byelection.
Mr Windsor, who held New England from 2001-2013, has not ruled out contesting this year. He said he would make a final decision after seeing which other independents had raised their hands to run.
"Anyone But Nats has a shot at making a difference," Mr Windsor said. "The Nats don't represent [New England] any more. They don't represent us on coal seam gas, or on water issues."