Byron Shire councillor Paul Spooner has been selected as Labor’s candidate for Ballina for next year’s state election.
It follows an historic community pre-selection, the first to be held in rural, regional or coastal NSW.
Mr Spooner defeated Ballina shire councillor Keith Williams in the ballot.
NSW Labor leader John Robertson welcomed Mr Spooner to the NSW Labor team, saying the community preselection method used in selecting him – with over 2,300 votes cast in the primary-style contest online, in person or by post – was a success.
Mr Spooner said he believed that ‘we can revitalise the Labor Party in this region, and I believe this pre-selection has helped us show the community who we are and what we stand for’.
‘We have made a difference in this election already by encouraging activate, community engagement in the democratic process,’ he said.
‘When it’s so easy to be either too cynical or totally disengaged, the people of Ballina have rallied around and made their voice heard and their vote count,’ he said.
‘It’s a small but important step and together I believe we can make more steps and win the seat of Ballina at the next state election.
‘Now the real contest begins.
‘A contest that will see our side fight for fairness, for the environment, for keeping electricity in public hands, stopping the West Byron development and for ensuring our region is CSG free,’ Mr Spooner said.
Mr Robertson said ‘the people of Ballina have been taken for granted by the Nationals for far too long’.
He said Labor had already heard the strong views of the local community against CSG and unconventional gas exploration as well as the ‘savage cuts by the Nationals to health, domestic violence and women’s services and education, particularly TAFE on the North Coast.
‘As a Councillor on Byron Shire Council, Paul has a strong connection with the local community and I know he will be a strong voice for issues like CSG exploration, health and education,’ Mr Robertson said.