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The Battle for Barwon

The electorate of Barwon will be hotly contested in the March 25 state election, with eight candidates on the ballot paper.

Last week the three heavy-weight candidates drew the three top spots on the ballot paper.

Labor candidate, Joshua Roberts-Garnsey, has drawn top spot ahead of sitting independent MP Roy Butler at no 2, and Nationals candidate Annette Turner in third spot.

Other candidates in ballot paper order are Paul Britton for the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party, Thomas McBride for the Public Education Party, Independent Stuart Howe, Pat Schults for The Greens, and Ben Hartley for the Legalise Cannabis Party.

Independent Roy Butler is a familiar face to voters in the electorate.

Mr Butler was first elected representing the Shooters Fishers and Farmers in 2019 but after an internal party spat late last year over treatment of women, Mr Butler resigned from the party and is standing as an independent.

From Mendooran near Dubbo, Mr Butler currently represents the largest electorate in the state and has campaigned on issues of rural health, local economies and employment and living standards.

The Nationals candidate, Annette Turner, is his strongest opponent and will be attempting to win back the seat that has been staunch Nationals territory since 1950.

As a former president of the CWA and White Cliffs grazier, Mrs Turner’s campaign issues align with those of Mr Butler, including health, education, phone and internet connectivity, and road infrastructure.

ALP candidate, Narrabri science teacher Joshua Roberts-Garnsey, is a relative unknown who says the big issues are education, hospitals, and housing.

Greens candidate Pat Shultz of Gunnedah said the big issues she will be fighting for are social equity, First Nations people and farmers, the environment, and free and accessible health services.

Each candidate has roots in rural communities. Mr Butler lives on a property at Mendooran with his wife Jenny and three teenage children, where he breeds and raises cattle.

Mr Butler had a stint in the Australian Army before working in addiction counselling in the NSW prison system and then coordinated offender management programs in western NSW.

He also worked with people with intellectual disabilities before becoming western regional business manager of the NSW Police Force. […]

Read more local news in the printed edition of The Western Herald.

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