15 March 2023

Nationals up the stakes in Wagga with a hung parliament likely

| Chris Roe
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Member for the Riverina Michael McCormack, NSW Nationals candidate Andrianna Benjamin and Nationals leader David Littleproud meeting voters at the Riverina Hotel. Photo: Chris Roe.

The Nationals’ candidate for the seat of Wagga Wagga received some heavyweight support this week with the party’s federal leader David Littleproud joining Andrianna Benjamin and Member for Riverina Michael McCormack to tell voters that their only option to get “their share” was to back his party on 25 March.

“If we don’t elect a National Party member in Wagga Wagga then Chris Minns is likely to be Premier in just over a week,” he warned.

“Make sure that you block Chris Minns, who has publicly even stated he knows very little about regional New South Wales.”

READ ALSO ‘It’s a clean sheet of paper’: Consultation to begin on Wagga’s Riverside Stage 3

He also took aim at Member for Wagga Dr Joe McGirr.

“Politics is a brutal game of arithmetic. If you’re not part of a team, you’re not inside the tent, not the ones cutting the cheque, you get nothing,” he said.

“Independents are very nice people, but they are a professional complaints desk.

“All you get is a warm fuzzy feeling for the first five minutes after you vote for them. They have no impact.”


David Littleproud received a tour of Wagga’s new PCYC. Photo: Supplied.

Mr Littleproud’s visit highlights just how close the election result is expected to be.

The Coalition currently holds 45 of the 93 seats and will need to reclaim at least two more to achieve a majority, while Labor holds 38 seats and will need to pick up nine.

The most recent polls suggest a swing to Labor, which means the Coalition may struggle to achieve its target, but it will also be an uphill battle for Labor to make up the difference.

With a hung parliament shaping up as a real possibility, minor parties and independents like Dr McGirr may be in the hot seat, determining who takes the reins.

“It’s fabulous to have my colleague, part of the NSW Nationals to be here on the ground listening to the issues, having a look at the investment that we’ve actually delivered in our electorate, and the hard work the Nationals have put in over the years,” said Ms Benjamin.

Mr Littleproud also spoke of the investment in the region and credited the Member for Riverina for his work and a “legacy” of infrastructure.

“I’m a Queenslander, and we’ve got a Labor state government and Labor federal government,” he said.

“We’ve gone from over $5 billion that I’ve been able to get for my electorate of Maranoa to three-fifths of bugger all.”

READ ALSO ‘The conversation on housing has really been very Sydney-centric’: Labor promises accountability to the bush

On the issue of housing Mr Littleproud was dismissive of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s $10bn social housing fund and the plan to build 30,000 affordable homes.

“The programs that we put in place got over 360 thousand homes for those that are less advantaged than you and I,” he said.

When asked why NSW was experiencing a housing crisis despite almost a decade of Coalition government at state and federal level, Mr Littleproud reiterated the numbers of homes built and warned that the social housing fund would lead to inflation.

“What we’ve done is had a common sense solution by working with states, who have much of the lever with local government and planning,” he said.

“There are some communities where there isn’t a commercial opportunity to solve this problem where governments actually have to physically go in with local government to build it, but where you’ve got vibrant economic regional communities like Wagga, there are commercial solutions, and it’s about supply.

“It’s not a silver bullet and getting housing stock doesn’t happen overnight. But it has to be sustainable without having unintended consequences on inflation.”

Ms Benjamin agreed that housing was a “hot issue” and said she had been listening to locals for solutions.

“They can see we have so much potential in our electorate and we just need the support with a strong advocate that’s going to go in and fight for what we need for the future.”

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