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March 9, 2021

Dare to be informed: meet the candidates

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The NSW state election is on Saturday March 23, 2019. Photo NSW Electoral Commission

The state election is weeks away and the electorate of Ballina is a marginal seat.

These are exciting times and you have the opportunity to take part in them.

COREM, Bay FM and The Echo are joining together to give you a chance to meet all the candidates for the electorate of Ballina Monday March 18 at the Byron Theatre 6 till 8pm.

This pre-election candidates’ forum will help get you up to speed on who is planning what and how they plan to do it.

Candidates will give you their pitches before fielding questions.

The question is will this crop of politicians put money on the table, invest in our local expertise, and support the visionaries in our area to lead the country in community renewables and sustainable technologies? Let’s make sure they do. Come and experience firsthand the power of community engagement.

Valentine’s Day forum

If you can’t wait until then, or are of a particularly unromantic bent, you can meet three of the Ballina candidates – Tamara Smith (Greens), Asren Pugh (Labor), and Ben Franklin (Nationals) – at the Macadamia Castle tonight (Thursday February 14) from 6pm.

The forum will be MCed by local real estate agent and Byron Writers Festival founder Chris Hanley.

Email [email protected] or sign up on the Facebook events page to attend.

Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.


  1. All three of these candidates spoke well at the forum and while thee were differing conclusions there were many common concerns although concerns of the predominately Byron Shire audience. The environment, the impact of short term letting, TAFE and housing. Solutions proposed on housing were almost predictably unrealistic and again reflected Byron prejudices . Does anyone seriously think buyers of new housing in places like Wollongbar, Ballina Heights or Lennox would stand back and allow 10% of their suburb to accommodate “community housing” – people but in their area so they are not surrounded by problem households. And why should people in Ballina Shire do so to accommodate such households when the Byron rejects any substantial new development? . Ben Franklin went along withe some of what was said but I suspect he would be more responsive to residents in Ballina who do not want to be the dumping ground for the area’s problem households.

    Another striking thing was the lack of priority given to health and ageing issues. There was scant mention of transport and none at all about the looming crisis of ageing people in Ballina electorate – an d largely in Ballina Shire – who will no longer be able to drive. How will they get to doctors and hospitals in places like Lismore without good community and publci transport? I reflected on this today going past the RSL aged care in Suffolk Park. There is no traffic light controlled crossing or any path capable of conveying a cycle or a mobility scooter even to the Suffolk Park shops. let alone toward town.

    The greatest point of difference in specific policy was around transport. In her initial words and unlike Pugh and Franklin Tamara Smith did not even mention roads as a priority issue. As with other Greens she would love to spend the large surplus the governments they did nothing to create and doubtless would be happy if they could to put is into debts the would never have to pay off, but she presented structures plan to use any of it for roads. The Greens remain open to a rail service that would do nothing for public transport, to relieve traffic, to reduce transport emissions, for transport for the elderly in the south of her electorate that she ignored and of course would cost many hundreds of millions to implement and of the same order over a few years in recurrent funding. The recent experience in the Byron Shire shows the Greens are perfectly willing to spend on rail dreams while neglecting their road infrastructure. It was difficult not to conclude that if Tamara or Sue Higginson are in a position to influence spending that the result will be expensive studies on rail possibilities and shifts of spending away from our local and state roads. Heaven forbid they reduce NSW roads to the sorry state of the Byron Shire’s. There was no discussion of putting up rates and cutting school and other bus services to fund rail services but Labor and Greens went ahead it did both without telling the ACT electorate that was how they would fund light rail.

    Tamara Smith’s comments on the rail trial were the guarded and non-committal as any experienced politician and in marked contrast with the open support of both Labor and the the Nationals, with Ben Franklin already showing his ability to bring funding for coastal paths in both shires.

    In Lismore, Ballina and the Tweed anyone who wants sustainable and equitable transport in our region, transport that enables the elderly to access hospitals and health precincts or even their local shops, who recognises transport needs ot be road based and who wants to protect and develop the state and the region’s roads and paths that we drive and ride on, should preference the Greens last this time ’round.

  2. It amazes me that apparently none of the major issues currently impacting on the Nation as a whole received mention by the the three prospective candidates on the 14th. March?.
    Climate change, coal mining and CSG and also the appalling situation in the MDB with so much corporate abuse of our most finite resource to name only three. A few potholes, the lack of a traffic light at Suffolk and the air b and b issue are hardly of national importance in my opinion.?


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