The last few days before the July 2 federal election will see more high profile politicians in the Richmond and Page electorates in an effort to shore up last minute voter support.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten have already spent time in the region, as well as founding Greens Leader Bob Brown.
The government has promised a $25 million plan to attract jobs to the region while Labor has focused on hospitals, Medicare and the NBN.
The Greens have also promised additional funding for hospitals, especially for chronic conditions, and as always have campaigned heavily on CSG and the environment.
The Greens have brought mining spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham back to the region to remind voters that despite Metgasco’s withdrawal the northern rivers potentially remain a gasfield.
He has accused both Labor and Nationals of ‘narrowcasting that they are opposed to coal seam gas here.’
‘Yet you just have to look around our country and both parties can’t dig it up fast enough,’ Mr Buckingham said.
‘If this area is to be truly free of coal seam gas mining, the Northern Rivers people will need to send the strongest voice on the issue to Canberra,’ he added.
In a desperate appeal to rusted on National Party voters, Mr Buckingham has called for them to place the Greens second, ahead of the ALP.
Meanwhile National Party heavyweight Fiona Nash has been wheeled in to help out Richmond Nationals candidate Matthew Fraser, who has suffered a 10-point drop in his standing according to an opinion poll released last week.
The pair visited Tweed Regional Gallery this morning, which sits on land donated by former Nationals Leader and Deputy PM Doug Anthony, to announce a $125,000 grant towards installing a 150kW rooftop solar system at the gallery.
Belatedly reading the local mood on renewable energies, Mr Fraser said the project would ‘set a precedent for large solar installations in the Tweed Shire’ as well as ‘building on the impressive infrastructure and at the Gallery.’
He added the government would consider extending the offer to other community groups.
‘If there are local community groups who want to go solar, I can help facilitate a $15,000 grant for the installation of rooftop solar PV, solar hot water, small scale renewables and battery storage systems on community owned buildings,’ he said.
Labor’s black spots
In Page, Janelle Saffin will be again joined by Shadow Minister for Regional Communications and Health, Stephen Jones, this time to talk about mobile phone black spots in the electorate, a policy it pinched from the Coalition.
But Labor says the government’s program has been mismanaged.
‘Of the 499 mobile towers funded in Round One of the Mobile Black Spot program, as of 4 May 2016 only 21 had been switched on,’ Ms Saffin said.
She promised that areas prone to bushfire and flood would be prioritised in Labor’s version of the scheme.
‘Mobile phone coverage saves lives in an emergency and is central to the daily life of our region,’ Ms Saffin said.
‘Many parts of our region are vulnerable to flood and bushfire, so these services are very important to the community.
‘The lack of coverage is particularly problematic for the elderly members of our community who rely on these connections to stay in touch with family and friends,’ she said.
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