Deputy Mayor of Ballina, Keith Williams, has announced he will seek pre-selection for the Labor Party to contest the State seat of Ballina.
Cr Williams, well known for his work with local conservation groups, said he was concerned the obvious failings of the current Greens Party MP could see the seat slip back to the National Party, unless there was a strong alternative candidate with impeccable environmental and community credentials.
‘I’ve been actively involved in conservation and community efforts since my university days studying Environmental Science. I have been a professional advocate for community legal centres, mental health and palliative care services and have worked in the ecotourism industry and as a professional yacht Captain. Since living in Ballina I have planted more trees, eradicated more weeds and rescued more wildlife than any current MP in State Parliament.’
Cr Williams described claims by the Greens that only they could protect the environment as absolute rubbish.
‘If this was true, why have we seen environmental protections wound back, National Parks gutted and planning laws become a plaything for mining companies and property developers? The strategy of turning every environmental problem into a partisan political issue has actually taken us backwards over the last twenty years.’
‘As a community sector worker for more than twenty five years and a councillor for the last five, I know the value of working together, of finding common ground and seeking positive solutions. Whether the issue at hand is renewable energy, funding for our schools and hospitals, making housing more affordable or creating sustainable employment opportunities, we need to bring the talents and expertise of our community together and support them with good policy and the resources available to State Governments.’
‘I want to represent the Labor Party because first and foremost, I care about people.’
He dismissed the Nationals as more akin to a protection racket than a political party.
‘It’s a game of mates for them. Back your donors and supporters and bugger what the community needs, unless you can see a few votes in it.’
‘Ben Franklin MLC, Parliamentary Secretary for ‘Pretending we didn’t lose the Seat at the last election’, has been highly visible. But this incompetent State Government has surplus funds not because they’re good economic managers, but because they’ve sold the silverware. The privatisation of the electricity grid is costing local families dearly every time they pay their electricity bill.’
‘I’m committed to ending the privatisation rort. Natural monopolies like electricity and public goods such as forests and clean water must stay in public hands. Flogging these off to the private sector is a recipe for higher prices, poorer quality service and over-exploitation.’
Cr Williams stated that when he first ran for Ballina Shire Council his focus was dealing with ‘our biggest local environmental issue’, the state of the Richmond River.
‘I formed the Port Ballina Taskforce four years ago because the river is not just an environmental issue, it is also a major source of employment. Unless we tackle dredging, the re-development of our marine infrastructure, and support our cane, grazing and macadamia farmers to improve farm management practices we will lose our fishing and boating industries and the jobs they provide.’
‘I’m proud of what we have achieved so far: new boat ramps and pontoons throughout the estuary, masterplans for the redevelopment of the marinas, progress in dredging North Creek and Emigrant Creek and Ballina’s first ever Healthy Waterways Program – A $300,000 per year kick start to improving water quality and addressing decades of neglect.’
Cr Williams said, ‘The death of nearly every wild oyster in the estuary in the last two years should be a wake up call for all of us, the river has continued to deteriorate. We need the resources and the cooperation that only a State Government can provide. If I am successful in this bid, you can be sure I won’t rest until we have a thriving commercial oyster industry in Ballina once again.’
‘I’m standing for Labor because I want to be part of a team that puts people first. That addresses rampant inequality, where the rich are getting richer at the expense of ordinary families and the vulnerable. And where policy is based on good science, in consultation with communities and ensuring fair outcomes for everyone.’
‘We need people committed to the environment in Government, not just the Parliament. The Greens Party are simply a voice in the wilderness.
‘I’m looking forward to the opportunity of taking on this incompetent Liberal/National State Government and highlighting what can be achieved if we work together. Labor Governments make a difference.’