Austin Evans pre-selected as Nationals candidate for Murray
Newly-minted Nationals candidate for Murray Austin Evans has vowed to go "back to basics" and focus on the party's core values in the lead-up to next month's by-election.
Just moments after being pre-selected by Nationals branch members in a historic ballot at Griffith this afternoon, Mr Evans announced plans to travel the length and breadth of the electorate on a special "listening tour" in the coming weeks.
Mr Evans, a born-and-bred Riverina local, was elected by members from a field of seven high-quality candidates at Griffith Ex-Servicemen's Club.
He said he was "deeply honoured" to be chosen to represent the Nationals.
"I feel deeply honoured and a real sense of responsibility," Mr Evans said.
"The future of this seat is too important to be influenced by a noisy minority."
Mr Evans, a former Murrumbidgee Shire Council mayor and current general manager of operation at Coleambally Irrigation, said water security, health and education would be the keystone by-election issues.
NSW Nationals state director Nathan Quigley described Mr Evans as an "exceptional candidate" and said he would invoke the independent spirit of former local Nationals MPs like Kay Hull.
He also issued a warning to Murray voters not to be hoodwinked by a one-issue party.
"Austin was a local mayor who fought against council mergers and forged a better deal for his shire," he said.
"We are proud to say he has been democratically elected by our members that live in these communities, not tapped on the shoulder by two largely unknown men from Western Sydney.
"The Shooters Party have been political bunyips in this region - they've never been sighted.
"And now they expect the community to believe they care about it because the seat has been vacated.
"There is too much at stake in this election. The Nationals have a long and proud history of delivery in this region."