Rain, the only sure thing to make us happy

Every vote will count this election

Opinion
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Farmers are not entirely satisfied with the Coalition's performance, but plenty have reservations about Labor. Could this be the year of the independents? Either way, it'll be a clincher.

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A few weeks ago in this column The Land shared its observations that a lot of farmers out there are seriously weighing up their options this election ("Farmers get political as they head to the polls", May 2, p26).

This has been backed up by the feedback this week from the farmer survey conducted by Australian Community Media across its agricultural mastheads, which includes The Land, and says as many as one quarter of respondents who identify as Nationals voters are going to change their vote, or were yet to decide.

The survey (see p20-21) includes feedback from 1155 farmers.

One of the interesting areas is where the issues most important to farmers are broken down by state, with infrastructure the single biggest concern for all states, followed by water and then health.

The Coalition has more big projects promised in rural and regional areas, including freight corridors and water, while Labor is focusing more on coastal and urban projects - where the numbers are.

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On the health front, both the major parties have been a bit quiet on addressing the huge challenges to services in rural and regional areas.

One project the Coalition has got through in government that some may have forgotten is funding for the Murray-Darling Medical School, which will bring training of future doctors to rural areas.

Both the major parties are likely to struggle on water.

If people aren't happy now, then they're not going to want more of the same, but they are less likely to support Labor's policy of abandoning the cap on buybacks.

In the south, and based on form at the NSW state election, voters are likely weighing up independent Kevin Mack in the seat of Farrer as an option.

But even if the Coalition can hold off what is looking like being a swing to the independents, or Labor (or leverage support from the likes of Mr Mack who have said they'll back the Coalition in a hung Parliament), will votes from the bush be where it needs the numbers to win government?

The support for the major parties is at an all-time low, so a number of seats could go in any direction.

As telling as any is that Rob Oakeshott has returned as an independent candidate for Cowper and is polling as the favourite.

However you look at it, this one's a clincher and every vote is going to count.

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