SHOOTERS, Fishers and Farmers Party candidate Phil Donato says it is still too close to tell if he has been successful in winning the seat of Orange following on from the electorate’s by-election on Saturday.
As of Monday afternoon, 87.8 per cent of votes had been counted and, after preferences, Donato was leading on 50.1 per cent ahead of the Nationals Scott Barrett who was sitting on 49.9 per cent.
It is a massive disappointment for the NSW Nationals who have held the seat since 1947 and won the seat at the last state election with a swing of 21.7 per cent.
The poor result has caused NSW Nationals leader and Deputy Premier Troy Grant to announce his resignation prior to a party room meeting on Tuesday, with John Barilaro expected to step in as his replacement.
Donato said it is an incredibly tight battle to the finish line, however he is trying to remain optimistic.
“We always knew it was going to be close,” Donato told Australian Racing Greyhound.
“There are still several hundred votes to be counted so it is far from over, but we have our fingers crossed…things are looking good.”
It is close to unbelievable how well the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party have performed in Orange, with the massive swing against the Nationals is coming from people disenfranchised with council amalgamations and the greyhound racing ban.
Despite a backflip on the ban in October, it is evident many regional communities are still angry over the treatment they have received from the NSW Nationals Party.
Donato said his campaign for the seat of Orange originally started as a result of the greyhound racing ban in the hopes of sending a message to the government, a plan he feels succeeded.
“Our party has been on the record from the very beginning sticking up for the greyhound industry and really working towards putting pressure on the government to overturn the ban,” he said.
“That was the reason why we initially decided to run for the seat of Orange and we wanted to send a strong message to the government.
“The result has sent massive shockwaves through the government already.
“You only have to see what has happened today in relation to Troy Grant resigning – it has clearly sent a message to the government that the people of NSW and in particular from regional communities won’t be trodden on, spoken down to and treated this way.”
Donato is now set for a couple of nail biting days as the last votes are counted and preferences are officially distributed on Thursday, but said despite the final result, his party has won in regards to its aim of sending a message to the government.
“It’s like a classic greyhound race – it’s been neck and neck up the straight and someone is going to win by a nose on the finish line,” he said.
“Using the greyhound analogy, we were the outsiders coming from box eight – we’ve done the hard yards and whoever wins it is only going to be by a whisker.
“Even if we are unsuccessful in winning the seat, we are very happy because we have sent a very strong message to the government.”