Former farmer hopes climate turns against Nationals

The race for Calare is tighter than the Nationals had hoped after the entry of the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party.


By Jock Cheetham

Sam Romano address a federal election candidates forum in Bathurst on May 8, 2019.

A climate change sceptic has emerged as one of the possibilities for an upset win in regional NSW. The deputy mayor of Orange Regional Council, Sam Romano, is the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers party candidate for Calare, which covers the NSW Central West. Councillor Romano told The Junction he is “not convinced that climate change actually works”.

After the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers strong showing in the March state election, Cr Romano has emerged as the second most likely candidate to win in the betting stakes, with odds of $3.35. Labor has slid back to $12 and the Nationals are on $1.25 for a $1 bet.

Cr Romano is married to Karen, a former nurse and they have both lived in Orange since 2002. Cr Romano was a sheep and cattle farmer and an electrician by trade who is making his federal politics debut. His background gives him insights into the millennium drought’s effect on the farmers and communities in the region. The party is trying to establish the “old country image” to appeal to voters in the region of Calare and challenge the Nationals’ dominance as the natural party of the conservative vote in regional and rural Australia. 

Top priority

If elected one of Cr Romano’s top priority is to secure the region’s water supply for the next 50 years. A key issue for voters, and a major factor in forecasts of lower rainfall, is climate change. When asked about his stance on climate change and policies he said: “I’m not convinced that climate change actually works. I know there has been a long drought, but I think I wouldn’t be on my own to say that there is no definite proof that climate change exists.”

But he said everyone needs to take care of the environment and supports replacing plastic water bottles with glass and eliminating single-use coffee cups.

Some other priorities include criminalising “vegan terrorism”, which he says is destroying legitimate farming businesses and building highways which better link Bathurst, Lithgow, Oberon, Orange and Mudgee to Sydney. Cr Romano also supports establishing a federal corruption watchdog to keep the major parties honest. He would like to see more federal funds injected into small towns to stop them from dying.

Cr Romano got lucky and was placed at the top, in the number one position, on the voting paper. This was not without a bit of controversy after the first draw allegedly allegedly had errors. A second draw was called. Whether the first or the second draw was used didn’t matter for the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers party member because he “won” both draws. 

Drought relief burden

Cr Romano wants to hold the major parties accountable for the promises they make during campaigns. The Deputy Mayor of Orange wants to make a desperately needed drought-relief grant more accessible. He said drought-affected farmers were struggling to complete the huge amount of paperwork to apply for the funding. Cr Romano said filling out the paperwork required most farmers to have a solicitor and an accountant to assist them. 

When pressed about specific policies and techniques on how to bring his beliefs and issues to fruition he spoke mostly in stories of people who he has met in his door-knocking around the electorate. Cr Romano is working to understand the needs of the electorate, but can he make them a reality for the regional electorate of Calare.

By Jock Cheetham
Charles Sturt University students in the TV Studio control booth during Sam Romano’s interview for The Junction.