Echoes of high school students reading aloud from text books could almost be heard as Labor’s candidate for Ballina delivered his five-minute outline of the party’s plan last week.
Mr Broadley, as with all three of the male candidates present at the Ballina: Meet the Candidates forum held in the Byron Theatre last week, chose to pitch from his seat on the candidates’ panel hosted by Bay FM 99.9 and Echo Publications.
The high school teacher read his script with a steady pace and tone, rarely rising in pitch as he listed the opposition’s election promises one after another.
Labor candidate one of (nearly) four fresh faces for Ballina
Incumbent Greens Member for Ballina Tamara Smith was the last candidate to speak and the only one to stand and speak from the lecturn provided.
Ms Smith was also the only candidate with parliamentary experience, having won the past two state elections in Ballina.
Sustainable Australia Party’s Peter Jenkins, a surprise last-minute candidate living in Bellingen, declined an invitation to attend via video link.
None of the candidates besides Ms Smith have contested for Ballina or any lower house seat before, although Independent Kevin Loughrey ran for the federal senate in last year’s election as the last candidate on a list of six for Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party.
Mr Loughrey won 640 above-the-line votes out of around 4.8 million formal votes, or 0.01%, while Mr Palmer’s party failed to win a seat despite the flamboyant Queensland businessman famously investing a lot of money in the campaign.
Union bonds strong in Labor’s Ballina candidate
Mr Broadley, like Josh Booyens for The Nationals, is a newcomer to the hot seat on the election campaign trail and still bears a distinct humility, not devoid of country charm.
But Labor has long-since ditched its old and awkward ‘Country Labor’ branding and Mr Broadley is also well-versed in traditional working-class advocacy roles as an active member of the Teachers Federation in Lismore where he’s the branch president.
The Northern Rivers public high school teacher told Bay FM’s Community Newsroomrecently he would always take teachers’ informed advice on how to best approach policy that impacted staff and students.
The comments were made with reference to his support for community calls against a large state-proposed secondary school merger in Murwillumbah.
Mr Broadley also has strong personal connections to his profession, with his workplace damaged by flood in last year’s Northern Rivers disasters and the school displaced ever since.
Ballina Labor candidate supports staff-to-patient nursing ratios
But Mr Broadley also said he accepted calls from nurses and midwives over staff to patient rations, a move out of step with Labor’s response to date.
‘Personally, I am wholly committed to getting the ratios,’ Mr Broadley said, ‘only the nurses really know what the best rations are’.
Mr Broadley said having ‘public servants arbitrarily guessing these numbers and putting them in it’ didn’t work.
‘We have to have at least the ratios that they have in Queensland,’ Mr Broadley said.
Labor to ‘take control’ of NRRC
Labor says it will introduce parliamentary oversight of the highly-criticised Northern Rivers Reconstruction Corporation announced by the coalition’s Perrottet-led government a year ago.
Mr Broadley told the forum the NRRC had been too slow to act and that there were too many planning ministers under the Perrottet government.
‘Labor will condense this down to one,’ Mr Broadley said.
‘Labor will take control of the NRRC and make sure there is parliamentary oversight,’ Mr Broadley said, raising his voice for the first time in his speech, ‘so that they serve the community that they’re meant to’.
Mr Broadley said the problem was that the government had ‘politicised’ chief operation of the NRRC.
‘They’ve choked the funding and you can’t get money in Ballina Shire through it,’ Mr Broadley said.
Labor Member for Lismore Janelle Saffin is calling for the state to adopt a model based on the Queensland Reconstruction Authority.
Labor promises to fund community groups
Mr Broadley went into more detail at the forum, saying he supported resourcing community-led recovery and resilience groups.
The candidate appeared earlier on the campaign trail in Mullumbimby announcing a Labor promise to fund community centre staff.
The promise to make access to funds easier by removing much of the red tape was in Labor’s Fresh Start plan, Mr Broadley later told CN.
Labor candidate ignores community question on STRA rules
‘The property bubble is a massive problem,’ Mr Broadley said in response to Byron worker Francois van Kempen’s question at the MTC forum around holiday letting and affordable long-term rentals.
Mr van Kempen said he could no longer afford to live in Byron and had to commute an hour each way from Murwillumbah.
‘There are many workers in my situation who have been pushed out of the shire,’ the worker said, blaming long term rentals being turned into holiday accomodation.
Mr van Kempen was unable to make it to the Byron event and Bay FM volunteer Michelle Michels read his question on his behalf.
‘What are your views around short term rentals?’ he asked.
Instead of addressing the holiday letting industry in Byron or anywhere else, Mr Broadley spoke of the coalition’s historical policies on housing compared to Labor’s past failed election proposals.
He then referred to ‘a suite of policies’ on offer from Labor to address residential rental rules, mostly concerning an ability to transfer bonds and an end to secret rent bidding.
Mr Broadley has separately told The Echo he supports the Byron Shire Council’s proposal on STRA policy, which is for tighter regulations via a limit on unhosted holiday lets to ninety days in most parts of the shire and unlimited letting all year round in certain areas.
But the council’s proposal is for an exception to state regulations, which Labor has so far fallen short of agreeing to overhaul when it comes to holiday letting in NSW.
Labor avoids mentioning STRA in Fresh Plan
Labor’s Fresh Start plan doesn’t mention short-term holiday letting under either its housing policies concerning renters or its tourism section, which only features three items, all of them events.
Renters are covered under a renters commissioner section that includes introducing laws to end lease terminations without reason and ‘identifying barriers to increasing housing supply for renting’.
Identifying ‘options for longer term agreements’ is listed without further detail.
The state coalition government has already led several projects in response to the housing situation, most notably a Regional Housing Taskforce appointed prior to the Northern Rivers disasters and that has been rarely mentioned since.
The process included several virtual regional roundtables held during pandemic restrictions but that attracted strong community participation.
One of the taskforce’s report recommendations released 16 months ago was for short and longer term impacts of recent and planned reforms to be reviewed, ‘such as’ STRA.
Byron’s recently heard Independent Planning Commission inquiry into the council’s proposal is the closest the Perrottet government has come to allowing for a review since 180-day caps and a register were introduced across most of the state in the current term.
The hearings included submissions referring to numerous global studies of holiday letting impacts, including a meta-study carried out at Southern Cross University in Lismore.
Broadley commits to funding community radio
All four candidates for Ballina at last week’s forum said they were committed to funding Byron’s Bay FM 99.9 community radio station to be resourced properly for emergency broadcasting.
Bay FM President Ange Kent described Bay FM’s role communicating crucial information during and since last year’s disasters and read from last year’s state upper house inquiry into the government’s response to major flooding across NSW 2022 recommendations.
The 37 recommendations included one for the government to work with the community broadcasting sector to identify ways in which broadcasters could be better supported to provide critical services during natural disasters, with a view to providing them adequate long-term funding.
‘Do you and your party, if applicable, support that recommendation and taking it further to specify funding for Bay FM to have the equipment and resources it needs to provide a permanent and reliable emergency broadcasting response for our community during, after and in the lead-up to local disasters?’ Ms Kent asked.
While none of the candidates present gave a requested yes or no answer, they all expressed support, with Mr Broadley saying he supported funding ‘all the other community radio stations’.
It’s a very simple choice here, and not rocket science, we can waste our votes on the Greens, and get another four years of a non-delivering missing in action MP; or waste our votes on the incompetent, rorting, non-delivering Nationals, who can’t win the seat anyway; or do something that should have been done four years ago and elect a Labor MP in the form of Andrew Broadley who is going to be in Govt. and who can and will deliver what Ballina badly needs.
Labor is making the climate crisis worse by continuing to back in coal, oil, and gas. That is the LAST thing Ballina needs. Tamara Smith has been a fantastic MP who hasn’t taken the seat for granted as it has been in the past.