Greens candidate for the north-coast seat of Richmond, Dawn Walker, has lashed out at the National Party contender, Matthew Fraser, calling him ‘out of touch’.
Ms Walker told Echonetdaily that the Nationals at the state level were still considering coal seam gas exploration in the region and were instrumental in pushing through punitive new anti-protest laws.
Following his preselection on the weekend Mr Fraser issued a press release describing himself as the ‘underdog’ candidate, adding he would be ‘prepared to stand up to the “big two” parties.’
‘It’s interesting that Matthew has thrown his hat into the ring again as some of the issues he sidelined in the last federal election have recently raised their head again for our region,’ Ms Walker said.
‘The Nationals development plan for our region was outlined recently in the North Coast Regional Plan and unbelievably it includes exploration for coal seam gas,’ she added.
‘This is when the north coast community has made it very clear they do not want coal seam gas in any shape or form.
‘Most alarmingly, just this week the Nationals passed anti-protest laws to target peaceful protesters like farmers trying to protect their homes and land from coal seam gas.
‘NSW police powers will be dramatically expanded, fines for protesters will increase tenfold, and those who “interfere” with mining sites now face a possible seven years in prison.’
Ms Walker described herself as ‘the only candidate in this election that belongs to a party that refuses donations from coal and gas companies.’
‘I challenge both Matthew Fraser and Justine Elliott to reject their parties’ position on taking donations from fossil fuel companies,’ she said.
‘It seems our community is constantly fending off attacks from the National Party, whether it’s the closure of Murwillumbah Birth Centre, closure of local TAFEs, CSG mining or the recent cuts to bulk-billing for pathology and diagnostic services that will reduce access to quality health care on the north coast, particularly for seniors, pregnant woman and parents with young children.
‘The last thing our community needs is another out-of-touch National that wants to reduce services and destroy the environment that supports our local jobs and communities,’ Ms Walker said.