Successful Labor candidate for the seat of Page, Casino resident Patrick Deegan, may not have had the high profile of fellow contender Isaac Smith but what he does have in spades is a passion for helping the disadvantaged.
Mr Deegan manages a regional service ‘supporting families that are impacted by domestic violence, homelessness, mental health issues and financial stress’.
He told Echonetdaily that his current role has given him ‘a good understanding of communities’ adding his ‘first focus is to get out there and talk to voters and really hearing from them about what they think the issues are’.
Disappointed in Hogan
‘But it’s clear that Kevin Hogan has left a lot of people disappointed, that that’s certainly what I’m hearing from people already.
‘In voting against the banking royal commission, in supporting cuts to penalty rates that really hurt hard-working people in the Page electorate. He’s also taken funding from schools, hospitals, universities and TAFES in particular,’ he said.
‘Labor’s already put a plan in place for 100,000 free TAFE places – and that will have a big impact on the young people and people re-entering the workforce in our electorate,’ he added.
Mr Deegan said that his existing role, that sees him range between Lismore, Tweed and Grafton stands him in good stead when it comes to traversing what has become a very large electorate.
‘It’s very diverse, it’s a large area and has a lot of different communities – although it’s smaller than the area I work in… and much of it overlaps that area so I’ve got a good understanding and I travel around the electorate regularly already.
Youth training and employment
Asked what areas in particular he felt needed addressing urgently, Mr Deegan pointed out the needs of youth and the NBN as being two that stood out.
‘I think it’s really important that young people are focussed on, that they’ve got hope for opportunity within the electorate: post school options with a variety of vocational pathways and access to jobs.
‘Certainly building the NBN properly is one way of opening up those oppourtunities for young people in the electorate.’
‘Investing in it properly, ensuring that it gets built sooner rather than later and ensuring there is enough capacity in the network to enable people to accces those educational and employment opportunities that will become available through the NBN,’ he said.
Mr Deegan has been a member of the ALP for the past six years, including establishing the Richmond Valley branch, based in Casino and Evans Head.