A Riverina view of the federal election

Below is an overview of how the federal election is playing out locally that I wrote for Crikey.

While Crikey reckon the Nationals will keep the Riverina, it will be interesting to see what effect the retirement of longstanding National Kay Hull has. The Liberals must think they have a chance as I've had three communications, including two addressed letters from candidate Andrew Negline, so far.

The Nationals have sourced a strong candidate in Michael McCormack, former editor of Wagga's Daily Advertiser newspaper, while Labor's Robyn Hakelis has run afoul of the "born and bred" cliches in the local media because she's only lived in the region for a few years. Vocal One Nation candidate Craig Hesketh is running again, while the Greens have a new face in David Fletcher. There's also Tim Quilty of Liberal Democratic Party, Sylvia Mulholland of the Christian Democratic Party and independent Matthew Hogg, who's been doing a lot of work to raise his profile. A late addition is Rhonda Lever representing Family First from her home in Sydney. It's been reported that she's a reluctant candidate who agreed to run as long as she did not have to campaign, answer questions or participate in any way.

It probably will go to the Nationals again though as they have enjoyed a huge majority of votes in previous years. However, it's great to see the largest number of candidates ever running for the Riverina.

A key election issue here is the release of the Murray Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) plan, which has been tipped to include cuts to irrigated farms. With the region contributing to 38% of NSW's vegetable production with a lot of this exported, the trade off for environmental flows will be felt by consumers and in reduced exports. The Australian Farm Institute says every Griffith farmer feeds 150 Australians and 450 foreigners each year.

The MDBA have pushed back the release of their plan and this has been widely viewed as way of avoiding water becoming an election issue. While the MDBA protest that they're working to produce a "plain English" version of the plan, it would seem the delay fits with Labor's approach of deferring discussion about climate change.