Nationals NSW leader missed chance to plug Murray candidate Austin Evans' best political attributes.

It was Austin Evans’ first media opportunity as the newly-announced Nationals candidate, but it was his party’s NSW leader John Barilaro stealing the show.

Mr Barilaro was smooth and articulate during his most recent whirlwind visit to the MIA on Monday, labelling Evens a ‘local champion’ on the back of his main campaign points – water for irrigators, improved health services, and red gum industries.


Mr Barilaro's most regular message throughout Mr Evans’ first press conference had him imploring voters to judge his government on its track record – a likely tactic for their Murray by-election campaign.

However, it’s a message, if repeated, likely to have voters quickly lose interest in what will be a month of information and election overload.

What residents in Murray want is genuine 'local' messages, rather than speeches ready-made for the outside step of Parliament House.

When Austin got a word in, he provided his views on a handful of topical MIA-based issues. He answered calls for an external investigation into the Murrumbidgee Local Health District, instead preferencing instead regular internal government-backed reviews, and more representation in the western parts of the district.


Perhaps the most telling moment of Mr Evans' first media opportunity was his pledge to hold his government to account on the new hospital promise, and the first public demand for a detailed timeline on the projected plans from a Nationals representative.

But campaigning on the back of party achievements across the state is a dangerous ploy, and risks any of his experience and characteristics as an MIA local being lost within the same old political election jargon.

His predecessor Adrian Piccoli had a long stint on the front bench, which rightly or wrongly, drew some to speculate his allegiance to his home region.

Mr Evans himself said he's not looking for a portfolio - instead expressing his desire to put his hand up to represent the Murray region. 

But it will count for nil unless Mr Evans can differentiate himself from the city-based pollies. 

The sooner Mr Evans flies his region's flag independent of an elected state member’s endorsement, the sooner the Murray electorate will accept him and believe he’s a local willing to fight for other locals on local issues.