10 contest Murray

By Southern Riverina News

Ten candidates will contest the seat of Murray at next week’s NSW election with independents and minor parties coming forward at the last minute.

In contrast, the electoral district of Albury has half that number.

The three major parties — Liberal/Nationals, Country Labor and The Greens will field candidates in both seats, while Keep Sydney Open and Sustainable Australia also have a candidate in Albury and Murray.

Other minor parties - Christian Democratic Party (Fred Nile Group), Pauline Hanson’s One Nation and Shooters, Fishers and Farmers - have a candidate in Murray. There are two independents.

All Murray candidates, in ballot order, are:

●Philip Langfield – Christian Democratic Party (Fred Nile Group)

●Tom Weyrich – Pauline Hanson’s One Nation

●Nivanka De Silva – The Greens

●Brian Mills – Independent

●Helen Dalton – Shooters, Fishers and Farmers

●Carl Kendall – Sustainable Australia

●Alan Purtill – Country Labor

●Liam Davies – Keep Sydney Open

●Austin Evans – The Nationals

●David Landini – Independent

The 2019 field of candidates is the largest in recent history, with only three contesting the 2011 election, eight in 2015 and six for the 2017 by-election.

Murray is tipped to be a vital seat at the March 23 election which the Coalition government can’t afford to lose. The biggest challenger against sitting member Austin Evans is expected to be Helen Dalton, who came close after a 19 per cent swing against The Nationals at the 2017 Murray by-election.

There has been huge discontent across the electorate with The Nationals, in particular their failure to adopt solutions on water policy.

Berrigan Shire councillor Roger Reynoldson said he’s been happy with recent money coming in the past 12 months for the local region, but said it must continue after the election.

‘‘It’s nice to receive the money but if they’re serious about this area it can’t stop just because they’re elected.’’

Cr Reynoldson said it should come as no surprise water is the ‘‘number one issue by far’’ at this election.

‘‘The dams were not at low levels this year, historically when there has been water in the damns we’ve always received a reasonable allocation.

‘‘We need transparency in the system so we can find out why we’re not receiving water,’’ Cr Reynoldson said.

While Mr Evans and his state leader John Barilaro appeared to favour a water fund, which was suggested by the Murray Regional Strategy Group during Mr Barilaro’s visit in October, they have since been reluctant to talk about or commit to the idea, which would be funded through the Snowy Hydro sale. It was seen as a permanent solution to zero water allocation.

The Berrigan Shire region proved to be a pivotal area for Mr Evans in 2017 with all four booths favouring him against Mrs Dalton, including 60 per cent coming from Tocumwal.

However, that may change with prominent locals stating they will not be voting for The Nationals, some for the first time in their life.

A leading metropolitan paper reported that SRI chairman Chris Brooks and local businessman Kel Baxter had indicated they would not be voting for The Nationals.

Mr Brooks is backing Mrs Dalton and was reported saying ‘‘many of his members have followed suit’’, an indication of disenchantment with current representation.

Albury is considered a safe Liberal seat, however the contest is expected to be closer with the retirement of sitting member Greg Aplin.

Replacing Mr Aplin as the Liberal candidate is veterinarian Justin Clancy.

All Albury candidates, in ballot order, are:

●Reuben McNair - Keep Sydney Open

●Ross Hamilton - Sustainable Australia

●Justin Clancy - Liberal

●Lauriston Muirhead - Country Labor

●Dean Moss - Greens

Jerilderie’s impact on the outcome of the election will only be vital if the Liberals suffer a swing against them in Albury, as Jerilderie is considered a small booth.

At the 2015 NSW election, 70 per cent of the Jerilderie booth voted for Mr Aplin.

Jerilderie local and Country Creek Alliance co-founder Helene Mortlock said it’s hard to determine the outcome of the Albury electorate due to demographic changes.

‘‘Albury is a huge urban environment and its demographic has changed in the last decade. With a lot of ‘tree changes’ from outside the major cities like Melbourne and Sydney, those people are bringing their views on politics and the way they see things from an urban environment,’’ Mrs Mortlock said.

Despite the urban domination throughout the electorate Mrs Mortlock said the new member must remember the environment, agriculture and landscape sector of the area.

‘‘Our electorate should be proud of the creeks we have. There are amazing natural wonders and we need better education to celebrate and share these creeks,’’ Mrs Mortlock said.