Well, The Land might claim Mackenna Powell, the new Nationals candidate for Wagga Wagga, as one of its own.
The WFI rep is always on hand at the NSW Farmers events that her company sponsors, and each year it is hard not to enter the association’s conference room and not be attracted by Mackenna’s broad smile and engaging personality. The big rural weekly has taken many photos of her through the years.
This of course will set her up perfectly for her tilt at the Wagga Wagga seat among voters who may feel ‘unengaged’. In her insurance work she travels broadly across the electorate.
The Nationals decided to field a candidate after the Liberals lost the seat for the first time in 60 years in a by-election to independent Joe McGirr.
Nationals leader John Barilaro insisted it was gloves off for the Nationals to contest the seat if the Liberals lost the by-election.
It will be a tough battle to defeat McGirr, who has a solid and respected medical footprint in the electorate.
The Nationals is hoping some of the votes that might have gone with McGirr, will now move over to Mackenna.
Mackenna grew up on a grain and sheep property west of Wagga, the daughter and granddaughter of farmers in the Riverina and she has two daughters of her own who grew up in Wagga Wagga.
The Nationals said “Mackenna has a long track record of community involvement and working with a long list of organisations including Women in Business Wagga Wagga, Wagga Business Chamber, Women in Construction and has worked on charity appeals including the Wagga flood appeal in 2012”.
Mackenna told The Land there wasn’t a corner of the electorate she hadn’t visited.
“This is what people want, they want a Nationals rep in Wagga Wagga. I’m out and about in the electorate every day and their issues are my issues,” she said.
Farmers and communities were struggling with the drought, and even when things were looking up, the rain spoiled the hay harvest.
She said she was close to these issues. “It’s a very difficult season”.
She hadn’t researched what primary vote she would need to win Wagga Wagga. It was all new territory for The Nationals.
She would be taking leave from her job shortly to campaign for the March 23 election. To try and win Wagga for the first time for the Nationals was “very exciting”.
Deputy Premier and leader of the NSW Nationals John Barilaro said “Wagga Wagga has always been Nationals heartland and Mackenna Powell is the right person to represent communities across the Wagga Wagga electorate”.
“People across the Wagga electorate have been waiting for a candidate like Mackenna Powell to bring new life into these great communities,” Mr Barilaro said.
“The Nats have never forgotten about Wagga Wagga and Mackenna is ready to fight for what the community wants and make sure Wagga has the loud voice in parliament it deserves.
“Mackenna’s understanding of local issues is outstanding, from improving hospital services in Tumut to returning autopsy services to Wagga Wagga, as well as investing in mental health and drug rehabilitation services and eradicating mobile black spots.
“I am excited to work with Mackenna and I know she can make a real difference to the lives of people in every corner of the Wagga Wagga electorate.
“In regional and rural NSW, more than anywhere else, people need to feel that their local member knows them, will listen to them, and will represent them with vigour - I know that Mackenna has the ability to do just that.”
Deputy Leader of the NSW Nationals Niall Blair said it was time Wagga Wagga had a strong Nationals voice in Parliament.
“Mackenna Powell is truly a daughter of regional NSW and has a hands on approach to getting things done in her community,” Mr Blair said.
“Mackenna has a strong profile right across the Wagga electorate and if you haven’t met her yet, no doubt you will soon.
“This is an exciting time for communities in the Wagga Wagga electorate and Mackenna is an outstanding candidate, ready to build on the work the NSW Nationals are doing in regional NSW.”