Federal election 2019: Holding on to political life in Farrer

Member for Farrer Sussan Ley faces a test at the polls.
Member for Farrer Sussan Ley faces a test at the polls.

SUSSAN Ley faces arguably the biggest challenge to her hold on Farrer since she won the seat for the Liberal Party after Tim Fischer retired at the 2001 election.

Ms Ley holds the seat, which includes Sunraysia towns Wentworth, Dareton, Gol Gol and Buronga, with a 20.5 per cent margin but all indications are Albury mayor Kevin Mack, running as an independent, could sensationally claim victory.

Mr Mack has ridden a wave of support particularly from southern Riverina irrigated communities who have backed his calls to “pause” the Murray-Darling Basin Plan and hold a federal royal commission into the water management.

This week he said he would support the Coalition in the event of a hung parliament, but only if it backed his demands for the royal commission.

"Water is the very thing that should underpin and grow this region,” he said.

"Instead, the government’s failure to look after farmers makes the water dispute the very thing that threatens to destroy businesses, communities and lives.

“Sussan has had a good run.

“She’s had her hands on the wheel for 18 years and the tyres are spinning. The petrol gauge is empty.”

Albury Mayor Kevin Mack is running as an independent in Farrer.

Albury Mayor Kevin Mack is running as an independent in Farrer.

There are nine candidates contesting Farrer with Ross Hamilton (Sustainable Australia), Kieran Drabsch (Labor), Phil Langfield (Christian Democratic Party), Mark Ellis (Liberal Democrats), Michael Rose (UAP), Dean Moss (The Greens) and Brian Mills (independent) also in the running.

Ms Ley rejected claims the government had failed farmers.

“If Mr Mack is elected to the crossbench then it is also likely Bill Shorten is Prime Minister,” she said.

“And unless he miraculously holds the balance of power on his own, sure as day Labor with support from the Greens and other independents will lift my 1500gl cap on water buybacks, abandon investment in water saving infrastructure and scrap the test on negative social and economic impacts,” she said.

“I am standing on my record of delivering for this electorate and my determination for the future.

“I've been able to deliver $1 billion of funding to the electorate of Farrer in the past six years and that doesn't include the Melbourne to Brisbane inland freight line.” 

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