A spectacular falling out over water management has seen Murray MP Helen Dalton part ways with the New South Wales Shooters Fishers and Farmers (SFF) Party to become an independent.
- Murray MP Helen Dalton has resigned as a member of the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers.
- She will remain on the crossbench as an independent.
- The SFF says Ms Dalton’s position in the party had become ‘untenable’
Ms Dalton won the seat for the SFF from the Nationals at the 2019 election. She was the only female in the party.
Ms Dalton campaigned heavily on water rights for her southern basin community.
Last week Ms Dalton raised concerns members of her own party had failed to back her support of a disallowance motion on the issue of flood plain harvesting.
Ms Dalton has repeatedly raised concerns about the new regulations she said would disadvantage southern irrigators.
“[I am] disappointed in the fact that our Upper House members abstained from voting, “she told ABC Riverina after the disallowance vote in parliament.
Ms Dalton said she had received assurances from SFF leader Robert Borsak the party members in the Legislative Council would support the bill.
The motion brought by independent MLC Justin Field was successful after being supported by Labor, the Green and Animals Justice Party with the two Shooters in the Upper House skipping the vote.
Ms Dalton said the lack of support from her party was the last straw and she decided to resign from the party on Thursday and sit on the crossbenchers as an independent.
“They refused to vote down dodgy National Party law changes that allowed for excessive water take in the Northern Basin.
“These law changes really disadvantaged Lower Darling communities and Murray River irrigators.
“I’ve always said I’d put my electorate ahead of my party.”
Ms Dalton said the party removed her as an administrator of her own Facebook page, then deleted the page that had 27,000 followers after she tendered her resignation.
She said she will fight to have the page returned.
In a statement SFF leader Robert Borsak said Ms Dalton’s position was “untenable”.
“Under the guise of supporting farmers and southern irrigators, and unknowingly to the Party, Helen continued to make hidden deals with Justin Fields and the Greens party over the past three years for environmental water to flow further south into South Australia,” he said.
“This policy of appeasement and dealing with the extreme left flies directly in the face of what SFF stands for and what we promised to do for the people of Murray.
“We invested a significant amount of resources and trust in winning the seat off the Nationals, so it is a shame it has ended this way.”
He said the party will contest the seat again with a new candidate.
Ms Dalton said she was disappointed the party had attempted to smear her in its media release about her resignation.
Male dominated party
The Murray MP said there had been a “build-up of issues” she had concerns with the party over including how they treated her as a women.
“It’s really difficult being in a party with all men. That’s been very difficult for me too, especially when the ideas that I have had and suggestions I have made have been dismissed,” she said.
“They are incredibly autocratic and that does not resonate with me. I think we should all have our say around the table.
Ms Dalton won the seat with a 26 per cent swing against the Nationals and is confident she can retain the seat and increase her margin now she has left the Shooters.
“I think I will pick up another 5 per cent from women voters standing as an independent.”
The party holds two other seats in the Legislative Assembly including Barwon in the state’s north-west and Orange in the central-west.