Money talks in the Nationals’ fight for votes

Cowra was the scene of a spending spree on Thursday with major funding announcements in regards to the state’s schools and by Minister for Primary Industries Nial Blair (pictured) for agricultural research stations.

Funding announcements were also made which will benefit Cowra’s youngest learners and also the town’s rugby union club.

With the NSW National Party members holding their annual conference in town today and on Saturday there is possibly more to come.

These announcement follow hot on the heels of a generous new drought support package for the state’s farmers on Wednesday.

The NSW Government has been rightly accused of dragging its heels on the drought that now impacts more than half of the state.

The key plank of the drought package is an additional $250 million in the Farm Innovation Fund to provide farmers with low-interest loans of up to $250,000 to improve farm infrastructure and help farmers prepare for and deal with drought.

While local government bodies have been doing their bit with far fewer resources, it has been a matter of wait and see what the state might offer.

And with an election just over nine months away, it wasn’t only drought-stricken farmers who were starting to get worried.

The state’s National MPs must have also been concerned about when an announcement might finally come.

With the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party promising to target regional seats held by the Nationals in the lead-up to the election, any apparent lack of action on the drought from the Coalition Government was only going to help their case.

If we haven’t seen meaningful rain across the state by the time the election campaign hits full swing later this year, you can be sure SFF candidates will be promising the world to voters in drought-stricken regions, confident that they will not be in power and have to deliver after March 2019.

And when the grass is greener, and particularly during a drought, it would not surprise anyone to see large blocs of rural votes diverted towards the SFF if the government’s drought assistance was deemed to be inadequate.

Only time will tell if any SFF can emulate Phil Donato’s success in winning seats away from the Nationals.

On Wednesday we saw a rich, but overdue, down-payment on electoral success.