Member for Murray Austin Evans says he was “grossly misrepresented” in a newspaper article which reported comments made during a meeting with Deniliquin health advocates.
The Deniliquin Pastoral Times reported that Mr Evans said “he didn’t need Deni” to win next month’s election.
Mr Evans said he “did not make the statement I am alleged to have made” during a meeting.
“For the record: I want Deniliquin’s votes. I work to represent everyone in my electorate, from Hay to Leeton and Griffith to Deniliquin, whether they voted for me or not,” he said.
Mr Evans said he had visited the town four times a month, each month since he was elected and had “delivered a new police station, built a connected learning centre for the TAFE, put in a renal dialysis unit at the hospital and secured millions of dollars for upgrades all over town”.
“I will be seeking a meeting with the editor of the Pastoral Times to correct the record and ensure that the people of Deniliquin get the actual facts,” Mr Evans said.
Deniliquin health advocate Shirlee Burge was in the meeting where the comments took place which she recalled as February 22, 2018.
Mrs Burge said the meeting about seeking funding for the town’s hospital. She said residents were often seeking medical treatment outside Deniliquin, travelling to Echuca and Shepparton in Victoria. Mrs Burge said during the meeting they told Mr Evans he was in danger of losing the seat to Helen Dalton from the Shooters Party – who won Deni’s five polling booths during the 2017 byelection.
“I said ‘you only got over the line by a few votes, you need to make some sort of announcement’,” Mrs Burge said.
She recounted Mr Evans’ reply as: “well I don’t need the Deniliquin vote because I’ll get over the line with the Griffith vote because of the new hospital.”
Mrs Burge credited Mr Evans with establishing a strong presence in the town since he had been elected and said the article in the Pastoral Times was a “political assassination”.
Meanwhile, Mr Evans’ competitors – Mrs Dalton and Thomas Weyrich from One Nation have tried to make the most of the story.
"Deni hospital is falling apart. No children are treated at the hospital. It desperately needed more funding,” Mrs Dalton said. "What the Nationals are saying is that if your town is small, you're not going to get funding.”
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