THE Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party has revealed its candidate who will be wooing Oberon voters at the next state election as the party hopes to repeat its success of two years ago.
The party caused a boilover when it took the seat of Orange off the Nationals at a by-election in November 2016 at the height of the anger over forced council amalgamations and the ban – since overturned – on greyhound racing.
The council mergers were a hot topic in Oberon, where the community rallied strongly against any forced marriage with Bathurst Regional Council.
After the resignation of Premier Mike Baird, the proposed amalgamation between Oberon and its near neighbour was eventually abandoned.
The Shooters, Fishers and Farmers this week confirmed Forest Reefs potato farmer and sheep grazier Brenden May will be the party’s candidate for the seat of Bathurst next March.
Mr May was announced as the candidate by Orange MP Phil Donato and he will be looking to emulate Mr Donato’s effort at the 2016 Orange by-election.
Mr May said the region had been let down by the Nationals and it was time for a change.
“The Nationals have neglected our roads, our schools are under-funded and there is a desperate need for a cash injection in our hospitals,” he said.
He said drought support was a key issue for regional centres and was critical of the Coalition Government for moving too slowly to support farmers.
“The drought has affected me but it’s also affected everyone in our region,” he said.
“This government is spending $2 billion on stadiums in Sydney – that’s twice what’s being spent on drought assistance.”
Mr May said he would spend the seven months until election day on March 23 getting around the electorate and talking to voters about their concerns.
Mr Donato said Mr May appreciated the difficult job he faced in trying to unseat Bathurst MP Paul Toole, but would not be afraid of hard work.
“Brenden brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to this role,” he said.
“He is a born and bred local farmer with close community ties.
“Brenden is a man of integrity who says what he means and means what he says.
“He knows he has a hard job ahead of him but coming from a farming background he can identify with the many issues farming families are facing in this drought.”
Mr Donato said his success at the Orange by-election had focused the Nationals’ attention on this region, but believed it was a case of too little, too late for many disaffected voters.