Farmers get political as they head to polls

Election nerves set in across the sector as farmers weigh up their options


Editorial
Prime Minster Scott Morrison at Gilgandra Show last weekend.

Prime Minster Scott Morrison at Gilgandra Show last weekend.

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Farmers have a lot to be frustrated about, but are also showing an air of caution before jumping in with a protest vote on May 18.

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The bush is hurting and it's only now that there's an election coming that it's getting some of the attention it deserves.

Farmers are genuinely worried about what the outcome of this election might bring, especially given some of Labor's policies around carbon emissions, water and native veg - policy changes and the drought are also combining to push family farms to the wall.

People are angry and really are weighing up their options. And like in the state election where single issues such as water caused massive swings, we could see the same at a federal level, but with Inland Rail and coal seam gas thrown in on top.

Farmers haven't been listened to on water, milk prices, Inland Rail, communications and coal seam gas.

They're worried the government hasn't understood what their families and farms are going through in this drought, or about how hard it is to do something simple like get your child to pre-school when you can barely afford the fuel.

Mention Labor though, and the worry really rises to the surface.

As many farmers have said to The Land, a lot of people want to send the Coalition a message - to give them "a kick up the backside" - but how do they get that message across without voting in Labor?

We're even seeing groups such NSW Farmers pitch Labor "as an option" for those not happy with these issues.

As The Nationals leader Michael McCormack says, if you vote for Labor you get all the policies that come with them, and some of those policies will certainly hurt the bush.

The concern though, is that the Nats have been all talk and no action, and the state election proved it's not enough for the Coalition to sell itself on the fact that Labor is likely to be a worse option - voters have proven they will explore less traditional alternatives.

There has been a flurry of announcements this week (especially from the Coalition), many of which could benefit agriculture. But is it too little too late?

Some interesting conversations The Land has had of late with readers have ended in farmers saying "we're not completely happy with the Nats... but l hate to think what Labor will do... and Parkes doesn't have a Shooters candidate."

Farmers are saying they really do want to see the Coalition step up and perform, but they need more than just headlines.

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