THE NSW Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party’s search for a Bathurst candidate has gone back to square one after two promising prospects dropped out of the race.
Party leader Robert Borsak told the Western Advocate back in March that the Bathurst electorate, which includes Oberon, was one of a number of regional electorates the party would be targeting at the 2019 state election.
He said Bathurst MP Paul Toole, of the Nationals, had taken the seat for granted and the SFF was confident of causing an upset to match Phil Donato’s victory in the Orange by-election last November.
At that stage, Mr Borsak was hopeful of announcing the SFF’s candidate for Bathurst within a month, but the party’s plans have not gone as hoped.
“Both of the candidates we were looking at fell through, so we’ve started again,” Mr Borsak told Fairfax Media.
“We have found candidates for a number of electorates in the last few weeks, but unfortunately not Bathurst.”
Mr Borsak and Mr Donato were in Oberon in January to talk to the community on issues affecting Oberon and council amalgamations.
At a community meeting, Mr Donato admitted he really didn't expect to win the Orange by-election, but he said the turmoil in the NSW Government was obvious with the resignation of Troy Grant as leader of the NSW Nationals and Mike Baird from politics altogether.
“Our party is the only party representing regional NSW,” he said.
At the meeting, Oberon Anti Amalgamation president Brian Dellow said his committee was prepared to support any party that delivered Oberon from amalgamation.
Mr Borsak said he remained confident of finding a candidate who would make a real impact in Bathurst.
Mr Toole holds the seat with a comfortable 15 per cent margin, but that is still less than the 21pc margin the Nationals held in Orange before Mr Donato’s surprise victory. The SFF is targeting 10 regional seats in NSW.
To counter the threat, Nationals leader and Deputy Premier John Barilaro has been making regular visits to regional centres, with the state cheque book in hand.