OPINION: Murray, Cootamunda set to endure embarrassingly low standard of campaigning debate.

The pressure is off for Katrina Hodgkinson, having left NSW politics last week after a marathon stint as the Nationals sitting Member for Cootamunda.

It’s a shame she’s leaving the game adding to what would no doubt have been fuel for her own frustration over many years.

A slip of the tongue, a Donald Trump moment. It was a two-word tweet in response to the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party’s candidate announcement for her former electorate’s upcoming by-election, designed specifically to hurt the party’s election chances.

Unfortunately, there was little-to-no substance in the tweet, just a subtle jab - social media's version of a cheap shot to the ribs while sneaking out the back door.

And so it begins.

The mudslinging we all so desperately hoped wouldn’t eventuate, and a terribly low standard of debate we now have to endure.

Ms Hodgkinson has not only set a pretty ordinary example for her incumbent Nationals candidate, but added to the farce that is social media commentary fed by political grandstanding and alarmist reaction.

Whether the comment was designed to help or hinder the Nats is actually difficult to decipher, and ultimately beside the point.

Column space is being filled with politicians calling each other names, and voters are none the wiser as to who is actually best equipped to represent them.

It's easy to blame the media too - if it's rubbish, don't print it.

But where is the line drawn?

It's not up to the media to decide what's news and what isn't.

The media simply reports what it sees.

At the moment, and in recent memory, it sees those in the public eye attempting to gain political leverage with showboating and put downs.

Even reacting to the comment means the Shooters aren't exactly innocent.

Using the comment as ammo means Shooters are giving the comment legitimacy by bringing it to public attention.

It sums up the first worrying stages of what Murray and Cootamundra electorates may see in the run to NSW Parliament, and exactly what voters were hoping candidates would avoid.

Hinging arguments and political legitimacy on opponents’ inadequacies is not only lazy, it adds nothing to the debate on how the parties can improve their electorates.