The first of a series of meet the candidates for the state election kicked off on Monday night at the Macadamia Castle in Knockrow, and included three hopefuls: Kris Beavis (Nationals), Paul Spooner (Labor) and Tamara Smith (Greens).
It was a very civilised and mature discussion, with MC Chris Hanley guiding the questions around responsible and sustainable economic growth, transport, tourism, the role of councils and how a regional MP can effectively represent and influence the Sydney-based parliament.
The event was organised by the Sourdough Group, a northern rivers based group of business executives and volunteers who aim to contribute to the growth of the economy and jobs in the region through philanthropic work.
In case you are wondering, all three candidates for the upcoming state election supported the rail trial without hesitation, which has the support of the Sourdough Group.
Finally Mr Hanley asked the candidates that if elected, what would be their priorities and what makes them excited about the prospect of the job.
Mr Beavis replied that he wants to ensure that the roads are improved. ‘I want to make sure the guys that are on the job get a paycheque each week to take home top their families, which feeds the local economy. Secondly, schools and hospitals. And thirdly the environment. We love this place. We have the best backdrop anywhere in NSW and we want to protect that backdrop. I’ve been quite clear that I don’t support CSG in this area.
Mr Spooner said he had five points. ‘One, stop CSG in the northern rivers. The second is to fund the Ballina marine and rescue tower. The third is to build the Byron Central Hospital, which would be a fully public hospital with surgical services. I don’t want to see the privatisation of surgical services, as is going to happen under the coalition government. The fourth is to stop the closure of Southern Cross High School. The fifth is stop the West Byron development.
Ms Smith said, ‘I’m not just saying this because I’m talking to the Sourdough Group, but I am most excited about jobs. I’ve worked the young people in this area for 15 years. I’ve watched the gouging of TAFE, the de-skilling of the labour force here… I’m excited to be able to work towards 25 per cent of new jobs from innovation and business. So I would like to move on a jobs summit very early on. That’s what I’m most excited about.