The electorate of Barwon is up for grabs in a three-way contest for the March 23 state election with the Nationals trying to thwart a live Shooters and Labor party threat.
In the latest salvo to woo voters, the Nationals will announce today the waiving of rent on Western Division leases.
The Land understands this will benefit 1700 graziers in the Western Division, saving them between $500 and $75,000 in rental payments for the 2019-2020 financial year.
Of course the Nationals promise comes with another 'if', the same if that came with the promise to extend the wild dog fence by 742km, and the same if for the $250 seniors travel card - "if re-elected".
Meantime, there appears certainty in an announcement from Roads Minister Melinda Pavey revealed to The Land in which the third tranche of winners in the fixing country roads program has been announced in $41.4 million worth of initiatives.
This includes a $760,000 bypass at Condobolin along Maitland Street, and major road upgrades to allow more freight and road trains on Barwon roads.
Specifically this includes in Barwon a $4.6m 20km upgrade from Gonery to Barakee to improve the Bourke to Wanaaring road, a $5m upgrade between Goodooga and Hebel, sealing 90km of Kamilaroi Highway cutting 100km off freight travelling distances and $1.5m for a Curlew Rd upgrade for road train and B-double access.
Other projects that have won funding include Trangie Truck Wash, Jerilderie Road and Cudgell Creek Bridge, Mrs Pavey announced.
Her Nationals colleague Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair said almost 1700 rural leaseholders in the Western Division would benefit from a rental waiver next year, "saving leaseholders anywhere between $500 and $75,000". “This measure complements the existing drought support measures for farmers in the region, including waivers of Local Land Services rates and Border Fence Maintenance rates, valued at approximately $48 million and $1.7 million respectively,” Mr Blair said.
Minister for Lands and Forestry, Paul Toole said “with some leaseholders set to be up to $75,000 better off, money will be reinvested into their land and local businesses, providing benefits for their local communities.”
NSW Nationals candidate for Barwon, Andrew Schier welcomed the announcement saying the waiver would go a long way for landholders across the electorate of Barwon.
“This is one less thing that local farmers are going to have to deal with during the drought and recovery and it will be an enormous boost for individual leaseholders as well as our regional communities,” Mr Schier said.
The rent waiver will apply to all rural Western Lands leaseholders who are liable for annual rental under the Crown Lands Management Act 2016 for the 2019/20 financial year.
A recent poll had the Nationals trailing to the Shooters party by 51-49 on a two-party preferred vote in Barwon. In February a Shooters poll of 600 voters found the Nationals had a commanding 16 per cent margin, but this was taken before the fish kills at Menindee. The Nationals are also facing a backlash for supporting the Pilliga gas project with a gas pipeline to run through western farmland.