Someone within the National Party’s Murray by-election campaign team must have given newly elected Member for Murray Austin Evans the nod to make reclassifying River Red Gum national parks as state forests an issue he could support.
Otherwise, why would Mr Evans push the agenda without guarantee the Nats and Liberals would support his election promise?
The NSW government said on Monday there were no plans to change the status of the Murray Valley National Park, despite Evans’ by-election promise to introduce a bill to parliament.
Mr Evans was quoted during the election saying, “the Greens and Labor are singing from the same song sheet on this issue … culpable in consigning the local timber industry to a slow death...”.
Unfortunately for those who were expecting change at the Murray Valley National Parks, no one told Mr Evans there’s bipartisan support in NSW Parliament for keeping the River Red Gums as a National Park.
Suddenly, Mr Evans looks like he's jumped the gun and made a promise he can’t honour.
But there’s more to it than that.
His party, and the state government, stood in support of Mr Evans’ policy ideas at the recent by-election, knowing full well his private member’s bill did not have the support of the NSW Coalition’s Environment Minister.
However, the policy arguably achieved what the government was aiming for – re-election in the seat of Murray.
It begs the question – how much of the Evans Murray campaign was supported by the Nationals and the Berejiklian Government?
Whether it was a political tactic, bad communication or just coincidence, the Murray electorate is now being exposed to in-house disagreements between the Nats and Liberals over whether to support their new member, while he’s desperately trying to find his feet.
Labor says the Nats were sandbagging the whole time, and it’s a valid question to ask.
Sure, the media should have sought an answer to whether Mr Evans’ Red Gums proposal had party support during the Murray by-election.
But regardless of the answer, there was always going to be a day of reckoning for Mr Evans’ proposal.
It ultimately means Mr Evans’ own government has drawn a line through part of his mandate, leaving voters wondering, once again, if there are any reasons left to trust and take interest in our political system.
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