Flanked by family, friends and farmers, Rankins Springs-raised water advocate Helen Dalton launched her bid to enter NSW Parliament in Griffith on Thursday
Ms Dalton revealed she rejected offers to stand for the National Party, and will instead be the candidate for the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party for the by-election in the state seat of Murray on October 14.
“The Nationals have been in power for a long time now and we’re way behind. Way behind in the infrastructure we need and the resources we need,” she said.
Ms Dalton, who now lives on her farm in Binya, was quick to distinguish herself from the Nationals on key policy issues.
She expressed her support for an external investigation into the Murrumbidgee Local Health District, who have come under fire for targeting Griffith hospital for cuts.
The NSW Government have rejected calls for the inquiry.
Ms Dalton also said she’s not satisfied with the government’s $35 million pledge towards the building of a new hospital in Griffith in the future.
“We need a timeline… and we need services now.”
Ms Dalton has been a long time campaigner for better water quality, allocation and management, and sees this as a key election issue.
“Water links the Murray electorate,” she said.
The Binya farmer also said she will be fighting for a proposed inland freight rail network between Melbourne and Brisbane – aimed at helping farmers get produce to ports quicker – to go through the MIA .
The Federal Coalition Government currently favours a cheaper, alternative route passing through Wagga and Albury.
The by-election will be held in Murray due to the resignation of current member, Adrian Piccoli of the National Party.
Ms Dalton has criticised the outgoing member.
“Adrian sold out rural communities on health, education and water.”
“The people of Murray elected Adrian for a period of four years, not just until he found a better gig along with a pumped up ministerial pension.”
Ms Dalton stood for the seat of Murray in 2015, winning 18 per cent of the vote.
The National Party have held the seat of Murray since 1984.
However, a recent Fairfax Media MIA poll has revealed that over 81 per cent of those who responded would vote for a Shooters, Fishers and Farmers candidate, while only 12 per cent would stick with the Nationals.
The poll had over 1000 responses, one of the highest response rates ever for a Fairfax Media MIA survey.
In the 2016 Orange by-election, Shooters, Fishers and Farmers shocked the Nationals by taking a large chunk of the vote in a traditionally safe seat.
Betting agency Sportsbet have the Nationals as slight favourites to the seat of Murray:
Shooters Farmers and Fishers $2.10
The Nationals, Labor and the Greens have all confirmed that they will be putting forward people to run in Murray, but no candidate has been announced.
The parties will have until September 25 to nominate their candidates.
The by-election will cost taxpayers $720,000.