Sitting Nationals MP Mark Coulton is facing eight contenders in the Parkes electorate ahead of the federal election on Saturday.
The House of Representatives candidates in the order they will appear on the ballot are: Derek Hardman of the Indigenous - Aboriginal Party of Australia, Peter Rothwell of the Liberal Democratic Party, Deborah Swinbourn from Pauline Hanson's One Nation, Mark Coulton of the National Party of Australia, Petrus Van Der Steen from United Australia Party, independent Stuart Howe, the Australian Labor Party's Jack Ayoub, Trish Frail from The Greens and Benjamin Fox of the Informed Medical Options Party.
Standing out are an outspoken Indigenous woman flying the Greens Party flag on environment and climate change, and a young Labor Party union official who wants a sweeping change in Parkes - a seat which has been held by the Nationals since 1984.
"I believe the people in the Parkes electorate have been looking around what has been happening in the environment and becoming frustrated with the government's denial that climate change is real," Greens Party candidate, Trish Frail, a 60 year-old-old cafe owner and Brewarrina councillor told ACM.
Labor's Jack Ayoub, 27, pitched to boost the region's mobile phone connectivity and expand full-fibre NBN for homes and businesses.
"Connectivity is essential in the regions for access to education, health and commerce. If we want young people to stay here, connectivity is critical. We know that if you go to outskirts of many of our communities, connectivity is non-existent," he said.
This is the second time Mr Ayoub, an ex-teacher's aide and ex-army trainee prior to working with AWU, is contesting the Parkes seat which is safely held by Mr Coulton on a 16.9 per cent margin. Mr Coulton's margin is among the top five highest in the 22 NSW seats held by the Coalition.
Mr Ayoub came second in 2019, with almost half of Mr Coulton's amassed votes, and still believes to be "the underdog in this battle" however he is emboldened by feedback across the electorate that "they want to see a change".
Since Parkes was reinstated as a federal seat for western NSW in1984, the Nationals' held it for 14 years under Michael Cobb. Mr Coulton, a farmer and grazier, overwhelmingly won five elections since 2007 after serving as Gwydir Shire mayor.
He was a frontbencher in Mr Morrison's cabinet from February 2020 until July last year as minister for regional health, regional communications and local government and admits "there is no such thing as completely safe seat".
"But if you are doing the right by your electorate they continue to vote for you, and I will work just as hard for this one as I did in the previous elections," Mr Coulton said.
Mr Coulton reveals his strongest opponent remains Labor as how it was it the 2019 election. "The choices of the people thus far is between myself and Labor regardless what the independents might do."
Clive Palmer's United Australia Party has again fielded 58-year-old Petrus Van Der Steen who lives at Drake.
"Thanks to Clive we're not beholden to lobbyists and so we're not owned by any external influences and we have a strong team spirit."
Informed Medical Options candidate, Ben Fox, 42, is an ex-Dubbo College teacher and chef.
"We stand for truth, transparency and accountability in government, something I am convinced the voters of Parkes are also very interested in. Health choice is a major component of our campaign."
Independent candidate Stuart Howe, 55, is a former banker and poultry farmer who if elected, pledges to enable constituents to vote on legislations digitally.
Liberal Democrats' Peter Rothwell, 41, has been a business owner and farmer. The party stands for low taxes, small government and individual responsibility.
"Too much of our lives are being ruled by government and the perception of the individual is being diminished all the time," he said.
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