The rural vote will determine the fate of Cootamundra's by-election

Martin Honner

Martin Honner

THE seat of Cootamundra is set to experience a showdown between the Nationals and Shooters, Fishers and Farmers in the upcoming by-election.

It is a seat where the rural vote is imperative. Phones are ringing hot for those in the agricultural circles as political parties embark on the pre-selection process. Martin Honner of Junee has been a long-time Nationals supporter but admits to letting his membership lapse.

“I think the Nationals are on a hiding to nothing,” he told The Rural this week. “The Nationals haven’t done themselves any favours,” he said.

Despite the resignation of sitting member Katrina Hodgkinson Mr Honner defended her saying she had done good things for the bush. He blamed the party for mishandling council amalgamations and other issues. “Nationals is too city based,” he said. 

After the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers made history and took the stronghold National’s seat in Orange the need for this party to gain the rural vote in Cootamundra couldn’t be stronger.

Shooters, Fishers and Farmers state director Filip Despotoski said no candidates for Cootamundra had been selected but this would occur in the next few weeks.

The Rural believes the Nationals have three female candidates preselected and the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers are remaining tight lipped about any possible candidates. 

Wagga City Councillor Paul Funnell confirmed he was approached to stand for the Nationals. He said he wasn’t a member of the party but a quality candidate for Cootamundra was essential. 

“So much of politics is city centric,” he said. Mr Funnell said he could understand the anger regarding council amalgamations and communities would not let go of this. 

He said rural voters were seeking clear policies on foreign ownership of land, support for small business and clear leadership. 

“This is a critical turning point,” he said.