Nationals' pledge to 'listen'

MALLEE candidate, Anne Webster pledges to "listen to the locals" if she is elected at the Federal election.

The endorsed Nationals candidate said during visits to Cohuna and Kerang that the Murray election loss in the New South Wales election last weekend was a sobering reminder to listen to your constituents.

Nationals candidate Anne Webster, centre, chats with Karen McNeil and Dale Spinks during a campaign visit to Kerang.

Nationals candidate Anne Webster, centre, chats with Karen McNeil and Dale Spinks during a campaign visit to Kerang.

"I have a clear and strong resolve to represent the electorate to the best of my ability if elected," she said.

The Prime Minister, Scott Morrison is expected to soon announce an election date in May with either the 11th or 18th believed to be favoured.

Dr Webster, a Mildura social worker and founding director of young mother support organisation Zoe Support, said that she was acutely aware that "there is a lot of hurt" in regional areas and The Nationals' role was to be the voice of those regional areas.

"The reality is that independents have no capacity, no influence and if you are part of a party to fight for rural issues," she said.

She defended the Federal Government's refusal to "pause" the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, saying she believed that, while it was not perfect, we needed to continue with the review process and follow it through.

"I'm against more buy-backs, but if Labor (is elected and) removes the cap, it will be a bad move. While we don't have it yet, we need to balance the economic outcomes and the social and community outcomes," she said.

Dr Webster urged the community to be patient while people in New South Wales who breached the water regulations are brought to justice.

"I want to reiterate that I will listen to people across our vast electorate and work on their behalf," she said.

She said before her recent endorsement that voters had ­developed distrust and cynicism towards politicians – both in and outside The Nationals – and she wanted to step forward to help win trust back. "I am one of those voters who has distrust," she said.

Dr Webster has been endorsed by The Nationals following the decision by incumbent Andrew Broad to not seek re-election in the wake of a scandal involving the married politician connecting to a young woman on a dating website and then dining with her in Hong Kong.

She unsuccessfully sought endorsement against Mr Broad in 2013.

The Nationals have never lost the seat of Mallee since it was established in 1949. It is considered among the safest in the nation at 19.8 per cent.

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