Shadow north coast minister Walt Secord has taken a swipe at his Nationals upper house colleagues for ‘patting themselves on the back’, despite taking a massive cut in their support on the north coast at the last state election.
Mr Secord’s comments followed a controversial motion by National Party parliamentary secretary Rick Colless, which ‘congratulates Mr Foley and his north coast Labor team for delivering Lismore and Tweed back to the Nationals and commiserates on Labor’s failure to win any seats on the north coast.’
He said the motion, which failed to mention that the Nats had actually lost their north coast seat of Ballina to the Greens’ Tamara Smith, ‘consumed about three hours of parliamentary resources’ and described it as a ‘self-congratulating waste of taxpayers’ money’.
He said that the Mr Colless had ‘revealed his hidden talent – that he is a man with a great deal of satire.’
‘What else could explain the Nationals members wanting to refer to their near-death experience on the north coast? The swings against the Nationals speak for themselves: Lismore, 21.5 per cent; Tweed, 18.5 per cent; Clarence, 22.2 per cent; and Ballina, 27.8 per cent with the election of Ms Tamara Smith. By any measure they were all disastrous, but the Nationals members now seek to commend themselves, Mr Secord said.
‘These results demonstrate how those north coast communities have been ignored by … the Nationals. They demonstrate the anger by north coast locals at: the Nationals privatisation plans for day surgery at Byron Central Hospital; the Nationals failure to protect the community at Kings Forest, Kingscliff, from billionaire property developer Bob Ell; the Nationals plan to flog lot 490 in Kingscliff to dodgy white shoe developer mates; the Nationals’ war on north coast koalas, led by the minister for roads, maritime and freight; the Nationals’ lack of support for Ballina, Lismore, Grafton and Tweed hospitals and staff; the complete failure by the member for Tweed to provide a high school at Pottsville, despite promising one; the slashing of nursing and midwifery hours at Lismore Base Hospital by more than 182 hours a week, resulting in bed closures; tomorrow the birthing services at Murwillumbah District Hospital will be closed, which will force mums to drive more than 30 kilometres for neonatal services; and the failure to tackle the whooping cough outbreak that has hit the north coast.
‘Further, the Nationals have abandoned their communities by pretending to fix roads on the north coast. It has failed to commit a single cent from the sale of the north coast section of TransGrid to fund roads in Ballina, Lismore and Tweed; letting all the funds go to Sydney. The Nationals have steadfastly ignored calls for protections on coal seam gas and unconventional gas, as well as the call to keep the north coast electricity network in public hands,’ Mr Secord said.
The full text of motion read:
(1) That this House notes that:
(a) on 5 and 6 March 2015, the Hon. Luke Foley, Australian Labor Party leader, visited the north coast of New South Wales to campaign in the electorates of Ballina, Lismore and Tweed;
(b) Mr Foley imported supposedly fierce campaigners from Queensland and Victoria to assist with defeating the Nationals in these three seats;
(c) the Nationals secured a primary vote of 36.65 per cent in Ballina, 42.46 per cent in Lismore and 47.07 per cent in Tweed;
(d) Labor could only secure a primary vote of 24.73 per cent in Ballina, 25.63 per cent in Lismore and 35.91 per cent in Tweed;
(e) The Greens could only secure a primary vote of 27.02 per cent in Ballina, 26.43 per cent in Lismore and 13.2 per cent in Tweed; and
(f) the Nationals secured the highest primary vote in all three electorates, while Labor ran third in the primary vote in Ballina and Lismore.
(2) That this House congratulates Mr Foley and his north coast Labor team for delivering Lismore and Tweed back to the Nationals and commiserates on Labor’s failure to win any seats on the north coast.