Nats rally ahead of Saturday's poll as Greens candidate makes bold claim to Coota seat

HEATING UP: Nationals candidate Stephanie Cooke (left) has traded words with Greens frontman Jeffrey Passlow ahead of Saturday's poll.
HEATING UP: Nationals candidate Stephanie Cooke (left) has traded words with Greens frontman Jeffrey Passlow ahead of Saturday's poll.

Nationals Cootamundra candidate Stephanie Cooke has rejected claims her National party is disconnected from the community in the lead-up to Saturday’s by-election polling but smaller parties are beginning to circle.

Ms Cooke on Tuesday responded to a number of allegations, foremost of which suggested Cootamundra residents would “prefer anyone over the Nats.”

“(The people) like a cooperative plan to deliver the things the community needs and don’t want a call to arms and hostile debate over every little issue,” Ms Cooke said.  

The 41-year-old refuted suggestion the Nationals were “out of touch” with community needs, pointing to widespread support for funding allocated towards the new Gundagai hospital, Young’s upgraded TAFE facility and Harden’s ambulance station.

“They exist ready to serve our community,” she said.

“This is a campaign of delivery, not promises, and I will fight to continue that after Saturday if I have the honour of being elected.”

Yet widespread anti-Nat sentiments have emboldened smaller political parties across the region and Cootamundra Greens candidate Jeffrey Passlow won't rule out an upset at the polls next month.

Speaking with the Herald on Monday, the former pathologist staunchly believes a leadership change is imminent. 

"When the by-election came up, the Burrinjuck Greens looked at me and I thought I should give it a go," the Stockinbingal resident said. 

"There's absolutely no point in going into this situation and not being fair dinkum about it – my aim is to win.”

Mr Passlow is looking to turn heads in Cootamundra's traditionally conservative voter base and said he was pleasantly surprised by residents responding positively to having a Greens option on the ballot.

"People are excited to have another option because the Nats are throwing around sums and figures people can't relate to," he said.

However Ms Cooke refuted Mr Passlow’s claim, stating her party has been proactive in “opening things that are actually built and ready to make a difference.”