THE PEOPLE HAVE SPOKEN: Voters in the Murray By-election last Saturday chose the National Party’s candidate Austin Evans to be their new Member.

VOTERS in the seat of Murray failed to give the Liberal-National coalition the predicted ‘kick-in-the-pants’ at last Saturday’s By-election, which saw the Nats candidate Austin Evans, the decisive victor.

On a two-party preferred basis, National’s candidate Austin Evans beat Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party (SFFP) candidate Helen Dalton, 53.5 per cent to 46.5 per cent.

At last count, Mr Evan’s primary vote was 40.7 percent, while Ms Dalton who achieved a 15 percent swing against the Nationals, had a 31.5 percent primary.

Mr Evans was reported as saying the result was humbling and he is daunted by the prospect of entering State Parliament and with the trust people have put in him.

Although the National Party suffered a 15 point swing against them, Mr Evans said he was focusing his attention on the future, he had listened and now wants to address the issues that concern people in the electorate, head-on.

The former Murrumbidgee Shire Mayor, is now heading to Sydney to take up the seat vacated by former Member, Adrian Piccoli, and will no doubt find out just how hot it is in the State Parliament arena.

Although disappointed with the result, SFFP candidate Helen Dalton, has confirmed that she’ll be back for a tilt at the seat in 2019 NSW State election.

Speaking at her concession speech in Griffith on Monday, Ms Dalton said despite the loss, she’ll be back for 2019, and promised to hold Mr Evans and the National Party to account.

“I’ll be having plenty to say, and I’ll hold the Nats to account, they have to deliver for the electorate, if they don’t, they’ll be gone,” she said.

The SFFP was expected to perform better than they did, and part of the reason may have been the strong negative campaign the National Party ran, including the distribution of an open letter from former Prime Minister, John Howard, and former Deputy PM, Tim Fischer, which cautioned against weakening gun laws in relation to semi-automatic weapons.

Someone who predicted a voter backlash for the Nats was former Wentworth Shire Councillor Bob Wheeldon, who said allowing the shortest possible election period helped the Government avoid scrutiny.

“I was on a polling booth all day for the Murray By-election and hundreds of voters were angry about the election process, and the little time given to them to consider their vote,” he said.

“Many elderly voters had to physically attend the polling booth as their postal votes had not arrived.

“At a time when the NSW Government wants to spend $2billion on sports

stadiums, the people of Murray deserve a fair hearing on a ‘living’ Darling River and infrastructure equity, let’s see if the Nats are up to it.”