Ballina Shire Mayor Sharon Cadwallader has defended her status as an independent this week after appearing in a federal campaign ad for Nationals candidate Kimberly Hone.
The ad in the April issue of Lennox Wave featured a cluster of photos of Ms Hone alongside a statement from the conservative candidate hoping to win the Northern NSW seat of Richmond.
The main photo showed her standing with federal agricultural minister and fellow Nationals member, David Littleproud, and Ballina Shire Mayor Sharon Cadwallder.
Councillor Cadwallader told The Echo on Tuesday she hadn’t been a member of the Nationals for eight or nine years and was truly an independent.
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Cr Cadwallader said she’d only met Ms Hone once, the day Mr Littleproud visited the region recently to hear about flood impacts on farmland.
She said she’d agreed to have the photo used in ‘a brochure’ for Ms Hone but wasn’t aware it was to be published in a campaign ad.
‘I’ll work with whoever’s elected and whoever is out there,’ Cr Cadwallader said.
When campaigning for the position of mayor last year, Cr Cadwallader insisted she was a true independent despite previously holding prominent roles in The Nationals, including trying and failing to win pre-selection for the state seat of Ballina in 2014.
The controversial idea of a new dam near the hinterland village of Dunoon dominated Cr Cadwaller’s mayoral campaign and today she said her political preferences would be swayed by where candidates stood on regional water security.
‘I know that Labor don’t support that and The Greens don’t support the future water strategy,’ Cr Cadwallader said.
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When asked whether The Nationals had done anything she didn’t agree with, Cr Cadwallader said she couldn’t think of anything off the top of her head.
‘I’d have to have a look at what Kimberly’s actually proposing, to be honest,’ Cr Cadwallader said, ‘I don’t know whether I would endorse everything that Kimberly is standing for’.
‘I support women running for office,’ Cr Cadwallader said.
In her campaign ad, Ms Hone said she loved Cr Cadwallader’s ‘strong plan’ for the Ballina Shire and that ‘one issue raised’ during their meeting with Mr Littleproud was ‘already being resolved’.
The Echo asked Ms Hone to relay what she knew of Cr Cadwallader’s ‘strong plan’ and in a written statement she referred to a ‘vision’ focussed on ‘delivering better services, safer roads and ratepayer value for money’.
Ms Hone said she believed Cr Cadwallader was an ‘inspiration’ for the next generation of young people ‘who want to become positive, future focussed leaders of their community’.
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The mayor later confirmed her ‘strong plan’ revolved around ‘keeping on doing what we’re doing and doing it better’.
She listed flood mitigation, cycleways and walkways, roads, supporting businesses to create jobs, affordable housing, and social housing as her priorities for the Ballina Shire, with social housing her main concern.
The mayor hadn’t yet discussed federal social housing funds for the region with Ms Hone, she said, but planned to push the issue with all federal candidates for Richmond.
Ms Hone was yet to mention social housing as a campaign priority as of Tuesday, while Labor and The Greens have both mentioned housing in their federal campaigns.
As for the ‘one issue’ already being resolved after Mr Littleproud’s visit, Cr Cadwallader named drain blocakages in cane fields.