By Noel Fisher & Tony Bosworth
In a shock move after he won pre-selection to represent the Nationals in the state seat of Barwon, Broken Hill councillor Dave Gallagher has resigned from the Nationals and says, “I have no intentions of running for the Nationals in any way, shape or form ever again”.
It has been just a week since Cllr Gallagher was preselected to represent the Nationals at next year’s NSW state election.
In the pre-selection race he defeated White Cliffs grazier, Annette Turner at last week’s vote in Cobar, and with his surprise resignation Ms Turner will now be the candidate.
And it’s not just Mr Gallagher who has stood aside, the majority of Broken Hill National Party members have also resigned.
Cllr Gallagher told the Barrier Truth he decided to step aside when a senior National “talked to me and suggested I may have lost a bit of support in certain parts of the Nationals, and he made a suggestion”.
“It was a bit of a shock, it’s one of the biggest kicks in the guts I’ve ever had in my life.
“The gentleman that spoke to me, I have the utmost respect for him, always have and always will, but he was the bearer of bad news.
“Knowing we may not have support I decided to resign from the race and the party.”
Cllr Gallagher said no-one could ever take away from him the fact he won pre-selection. “Nothing can take that away from me,” he said, and he pointed out he’d never disrespect the National Party but clearly the move he felt compelled to make has hit the Broken Hill councillor hard.
“I’ve been a member [of the Nationals] for around 11 years. There was a democratic decision [at pre-selection] and then I found out we didn’t have support.
“It will be hard to leave the party, but my mission now is to help Broken Hill. It’s my home, my heart, my soul, and I will devote everything I can to Broken Hill.”
He also makes the point over 30% of the electorate in the Barwon electorate – currently held by Shooters, Fishers and Farmers’, Roy Butler – is in Broken Hill, implying a locally-based candidate would have been the smart thing for the Nationals.
He says he is not going to run for another party for the State and instead will concentrate on working hard in local government.
“It’s the closest to the people and as I mentioned in my pre-selection speech I think local government is very special, this is the closest thing to everyone in the community. The city of Broken Hill is where I will focus and looking after the other areas too, Menindee and Wilcannia. I have no political ties now and will continue to work hard for the people.”
The bruising political experience has clearly hit Cllr Gallagher hard. “It’s one of the hardest things I have had to put up with or make decisions on in my entire life. I am feeling low at the moment, but I love Broken Hill, I’ve got family, and I decided this is where I wanted to spend the rest of my life, and to serve this community.”
Deputy Premier and leader of the NSW Nationals, Paul Toole, said that the Nationals will be running in the seat of Barwon at the 2023 election.
“The Nats have always fought hard for the communities of Barwon to ensure they get the investment and infrastructure they deserve — and I look forward to sharing our vision for how we continue to build a stronger regional NSW,” he said.