The local seat of Murray is set to be the serious target of minor parties in next year’s NSW Government election.
There is speculation the Shooters Fishers and Farmers (SFF) Party and One Nation will join forces to target regional seats.
SFF narrowly missed taking the seat of Murray in a by-election 12 months ago and would be strongly favoured to win the seat if it had One Nation support.
Media reports last week of a deal between SFF and One Nation said any alliance would “shake up politics in Australia’s biggest state”.
SFF won the seat of Orange at a byelection in 2016, ending a 69 year stint in that seat for The Nationals.
It believes it would have won the seat of Murray last year if not for a strong anti-gun campaign led by former Prime Minister John Howard and former Deputy Prime Minister Tim Fischer in the week before the poll, which was initiated after another mass shooting in the United States.
If SFF can hold its by-election vote at the state election next March and gain preferences from One Nation it could take the seat from sitting Nationals’ member Austin Evans.
A Newspoll earlier this year suggested the election is on a knife’s edge with a 50:50 result after preferences, which could see a hung parliament in NSW with SFF or One Nation holding the balance of power.
Last year’s Murray SFF candidate Helen Dalton, who has yet to officially confirm she will stand again in March but is expected to do so, said yesterday the people of Murray are disenchanted with the two major parties and their behaviour, and are looking for a ‘‘credible alternative’’ in the minor parties.
‘‘There is no doubt we have been ignored, and yet people have been keeping their vote the same and expecting a different answer,’’ Ms Dalton said.
‘‘We have been neglected and treated as third class citizens, and they (the NSW Coalition Government) have also taken a lot of services away from us too.
‘‘They have had every opportunity to reinstate the forestry industry in Deniliquin and they’ve had every opportunity to talk to locals about water, but they are only doing it now.
‘‘Deniliquin and district in particular is on its knees and something needs to be done.’’
Murray River Councillor and former Murray Shire Mayor Tom Weyrich has ‘put up his hand’ as the electorate’s One Nation candidate, but is still waiting to hear if his offer will be accepted.
Cr Weyrich has not ruled out seeking other ways to stand in Murray if he is overlooked by One Nation, saying ‘‘there is no doubt we need a shake up’’.
‘‘I can always stand as an independent, and as we’ve seen they are the flavour of the month,’’ Cr Weyrich said.
‘‘There is no question the NSW Coalition has run its race in this area; they are making some ordinary decisions and spending like a drunken sailor.
‘‘I think communities realise it is more than that though — there’s the cost of electricity, NSW Planning is in a state of disarray, the headliner is the forestry issue and the stance on water is doing immense damage and they should be banging their fists on the table.
‘‘I am very disappointed they are not prepared the defend the farming sector, given in this part of the world there are a lot of anomalies in water (policy).
‘‘Longer term we need someone in there with a bit of mongrel in them.’’
So far, The Nationals’ incumbent Member for Murray Austin Evans is the only confirmed candidate for the coming election. He was pre-selected in July.