Nats un­der the gun in bush bat­tle

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - - The Everest - ANNABEL HEN­NESSY

BUSH vot­ers are ex­pected to ex­press their anger with the Bere­jik­lian gov­ern­ment in to­day’s two state by-elec­tions with big swings pre­dicted against the Na­tional Party.

Deputy Pre­mier and NSW Na­tion­als Party leader John Bar­i­laro flew to Grif­fith to help his can­di­dates de­fend the tra­di­tional safe seats of Mur­ray and Coota­mundra yes­ter­day with high-pro­file MPs Sarah Mitchell, Niall Blair and Les­lie Wil­liams join­ing him in a show of force. Pre­mier Gla­dys Bere­jik­lian is also plan­ning to fly to Grif­fith this morn­ing.

Mur­ray lo­cals said they weren’t used to see­ing bit­ter fight­ing be­tween can­di­dates in state elec­tions with “coun­try folk usu­ally keep­ing it po­lite”.

Mr Bar­i­laro (pic­tured) said he was aware there was anger against his party but warned a vote for the Shoot­ers, Fish­ers and Farm­ers would send a dan­ger­ous mes­sage about gun con­trol in the wake of the Las Ve­gas tragedy.

“(The Shoot­ers’ pol­icy) of 10-year-olds hav­ing guns is the story of the day,” he said.

Mr Bar­i­laro said vot­ers would be bet­ter off vot­ing La­bor than the Shoot­ers be­cause of the gun poli­cies. And fight­ing be­tween Prime Min­is­ter Mal­colm Turn­bull and Tony Ab­bott was also mak­ing vot­ers “switch off”.

“Peo­ple want to hear politi­cians talk­ing about is­sues they care about like elec­tric­ity prices or health,” he said.

ABC elec­tion an­a­lyst Antony Green pre­dicted the elec­tion in Mur­ray would be tighter than Coota­mundra be­cause of the pro­file of Shoot­ers can­di­date and for­mer Na­tion­als mem­ber He­len Dal­ton and per­cep­tions that for­mer MP Adrian Pic­coli hadn’t spent enough time in the elec­torate. “It’s sim­i­lar to what hap­pened to the Na­tion­als in the nineties with the rise of One Na­tion, it’s clas­sic city ver­sus coun­try stuff,” he said. Ms Dal­ton said she had been hurt by “dirty tac­tics” such as TV ads fo­cused on the party’s gun poli­cies. “I’m sleep­ing with one eye open,” she said. But Na­tion­als Mur­ray can­di­date Austin Evans said at­tacks on him by the Shoot­ers about his role as coun­cil­lor had been “grubby” and “un­true”. La­bor can­di­date Michael Kidd said he had never seen so much at­ten­tion to the seat.

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