After months of speculation about whether she will stand in the 2019 NSW election, Binya irrigator Helen Dalton has officially launched her champaign as the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers candidate for the seat of Murray.
Mrs Dalton kicked off her bid to win the now marginal seat of Murray at a farmer-dominated lunch event in Griffith on Tuesday.
At a by-election last year, Mrs Dalton went within three per cent of taking the seat away from the National Party for the first time in 33 years.
‘‘I’m going to fight hard to keep every drop of water in our region and to bring our hospitals up to first world standard,’’ she sad.
‘‘I’ve been really distressed by what’s happening to our irrigation towns.
‘‘We’ve just seen SunRice slash 100 jobs in Leeton and Deniliquin due to lack of water allocation.
‘‘In terms of populations, that’s the same as 25,000 lost jobs in Sydney.
‘‘But last week, our state government agreed to flush even more water away. And our local member Austin Evans is silent.’’
Mrs Dalton said as a Murray representative, she’ll ‘‘rip up’’ the Basin Plan and fight to get a better deal for ‘‘dying’’ irrigation communities.
‘‘Our party could well hold the balance of power after the state election. We will be in a position to get things done,’’ she said.
‘‘The Nationals have sold us down the river, but we want to keep jobs here. We’ve lost enough water.’’
Mrs Dalton also nominated health care as a big priority.
‘‘People are sick of having to travel hours just to get a broken bone set, or to deliver a baby. We want regional hospitals to be fully functional.’’
Mrs Dalton is the first candidate to confirm they will run against incumbent Nationals member Austin Evans next year, and took aim at broken promises from her opposition.
‘‘Austin Evans promised he’d bring back logging to Murray Valley National Park.
‘‘He promised he’d walk away from the Basin Plan if we lost any more water from our region.
‘‘He did neither of those things.’’
Mrs Dalton is hopeful Murray will join the bush revolt, following the lead of Orange and Wagga in rejecting the major parties.
‘‘This election is a referendum on health care. It’s a referendum on water.
‘‘By flushing out the Nationals we’ll send an almighty message to Sydney that we will not take more of the same broken promises.’’