Voters in remote New South Wales say their state election candidates are missing in action

Posted March 20, 2019 06:59:22

The most remote voters in New South Wales say they feel forgotten by politicians as the state election draws closer.

Key points:

  • There are just nine polling stations in the Barwon electorate, the biggest in NSW
  • The most remote residents say candidates aren’t showing support to struggling communities
  • Barwon has been held by the National Party since 1950

Battling drought, mass fish kills, deteriorating roads and declining job numbers, the electorate of Barwon — the biggest in the state — has faced one of its most challenging periods.

Glynis Gilby, from Packsaddle which is 170 kilometres from the nearest polling station, said she felt politicians had neglected the more isolated parts of the electorate.

“Why should we support the people in parliament when they’re not showing any support for us out here?” Ms Gilby said.

“I know they can’t make it rain but I’d like to think they’d show a bit more support, not only for the farmers and station owners but the businesses as well — people are depressed.”

‘People don’t even know if they will vote’

There are just nine polling stations servicing the 356,292 square kilometres of Barwon.

While there are postal and online voting options, Tibooburra store owner Vikki Jackson said people were telling her they might not bother voting at all.

“The voting booth was stopped a few years ago, you have to go online, or do a postal vote, or travel 340kms to Broken Hill,” Ms Jackson said.

“At least a dozen people have come in to the shop over the last couple of weeks and they’ve said they don’t even know if they will vote.”

She said communication from candidates had been scarce.

“We’ve only actually seen two politicians up here, it’s a rarity we get anybody to come this far out, it would be nice to get a flyer in the mail, or even social media, some are using it, but others don’t seem to much,” Ms Jackson said.

Ms Gilby said the only thing she had heard from any candidate was a request to distribute election flyers on behalf of one of the candidates.

“A couple of days ago we ended up with some stickers and posters in a mail bag, but who the hell are these people? We haven’t met them.”

Rhonda Hynch from Wilcannia, about 200 kilometres from a polling station, said she was finding it difficult to decide on who to vote for with so little information about each candidate’s priorities.

“It’s hard to vote for a person when you don’t know what they’re about, it’s pretty sad,” Ms Hynch said.

Cynical of change

Barwon has been held by the Nationals since 1950.

With the retirement of Nationals MP Kevin Humphries after 12 years in the job, the seat was being hotly contested.

For voters who have heard promises about what each party might offer their region, many doubted the parties would honour their commitments.

“In my experience they’re full of promises and when they get in to government nothing happens and that’s frustrating for us,” Tibooburra resident John Ainsworth said.

Ms Gilby said she no longer had any confidence in the political process.

“You don’t seem to hear anything but their bickering and arguments, nothing about what they might actually do for us.”

Dick Wagner from White Cliffs said he would vote for a non-sitting party, simply in the hope of seeing any change at all.

“Maybe it’s something like that that we need to wake the politicians up, I don’t think that’ll happen though, they get nice and comfortable.”

Topics: state-elections, drought, water-management, rivers, rural-tourism, work, tibooburra-2880, wilcannia-2836, white-cliffs-2836

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