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March 31, 2023

Nats candidate for Ballina responds to pork barrelling claims

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Josh Booyens Nationals candidate for the state seat of Ballina

The Nationals’ candidate for the seat of Ballina in this month’s state election has defended practices labelled ‘pork-barrelling’ in the lead-up to a Meet the Candidates forum in Byron.

‘Look, I cannot accept this talking down of fighting for investment for regions,’ Nationals’ candidate Josh Booyens told Bay FM 99.9 listeners in a recorded interview aired last Friday, ‘I cannot accept it at all’.

Mr Booyens said the electorate was in ‘a unique situation’.

The Nationals candidate said he’d spoken to clubs and organisations ‘from Ocean Shores to Wardell’ that had been recipients of grants from the state government.

The grants had been allocated ‘not because of our local member,’ Mr Booyens said, ‘but because these clubs, organisations and councils bypass our local member and go to Ben Franklin, or go directly to the minister.’

‘Councils do the same thing as well,’ Mr Booyens said.

‘That to me is effective representation.’

Any dollar a good dollar

Ex-Deputy Premier and ex-Nationals NSW leader John Barilaro has become famous for his unapologetic support of so-called ‘pork-barrelling’, even celebrating a nick-name of John ‘pork’ Barilaro.

The Nationals candidate told Bay FM’s Community Newsroom the practice was ‘also dysfunctional representation when the funding is being fought for not by your local member’.

‘Now, I think that any dollar that comes here to comes to our electorate is a good dollar,’ Mr Booyens said.

When pressed on whether he would support a merit-based grants allocation system and what he thought of councils having to apply for competitive grants to have essential roadworks done, Mr Booyens said there was ‘always room for improvement’.

‘I will say, though, that there are quite adequate checks and balances behind the scenes,’ he said, ‘and if a grant isn’t recommended by a panel and the minister chooses to sign off on it, there needs to be a very robust reason around that’.

The Nationals candidate said he was ‘confident that the system and the processes are quite strong’ for government grants allocations but he would ‘always accept areas for improvement’, referring to ‘process analyses’ he’d experienced through his ‘professional career’.

‘People go “OK, great, you know, this needs improvement, there’s a risk here, OK, let’s have a talk, let’s have a chat and conversation about it.”’

Mr Booyens had previously said he’d had a long career working in home finance for a major bank before moving into the ‘community-owned lending’ sector.

Booyens brings back NSW koala population-doubling target

Ballina’s latest Nationals candidate said he identified with the party’s ideals at a young age growing up in Bowen, north Queensland, a town famous for its mangoes and, more recently, proximity to the Adani Carmicahael coal project site.

Mr Booyens took care to differentiate the NSW Nationals from Queensland’s LNP, pointing out his age and sexuality as signs of the party’s progressive values: Mr Booyens is forty and gay.

The Ballina candidate also defended the party’s environmental policies and reiterated a goal not heard of since Treasurer Matt Keen was the Environment Minister: a doubling of the state’s koala population by 2050.

‘Now with koalas, it’s really important to point out that this government has committed close to $200 million to making sure that we’re protecting koalas,’ Mr Booyens said, ‘that’s close to $200 million for one species’.

‘That’s not seen anywhere else in this country,’ Mr Booyens continued, ‘and the other part is that the government is committed to doubling the koala population by 2050’.

Mr Kean told mainstream media in July 2020 as the state’s environment minister he was committed to a target of another 20,000 koalas in NSW by 2050.

Catherine Cusack. Photo Tree Faerie

Former Liberal Party upper house member Catherine Cusack, who famously crossed the floor over the coalition’s so-called ‘koala kill bill’, which would have allowed more landclearing, later described the announcement as meaningless spin.

But when asked if he was sure the government was still pushing the koala doubled population goal Mr Booyens said ‘absolutely’.

The Nationals candidate also defended existing landclearing laws in NSW saying there were ‘actually still really quite strict rules’.

‘So we need to make sure that that conversation isn’t taken too far from what it what it actually was,’ Mr Booyens said.

National Party member for Tweed, Geoff Provest.

Earlier Mr Booyens had praised Nationals Member for Tweed Geoff Provest for abstaining to vote on the controversial bill, saying he’d put his community before the party.

‘That’s a great example of how the Nationals best reflect their communities,’ Mr Booyens said, ‘we will only ever do that in extreme circumstances’.

NB: Mia Armitage produces Bay FM 99.9’s Community Newsroom every Friday from 11am.

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  1. ” ….adequate checks and balances behind he scenes….”, says it all about the Josh.
    The Josh should have a quiet chat with Blue Mountains Council and learn himself all about John Barilaro’s “behind the scenes” business.

  2. Josh, what happened under Barilaro’s leadership was PORKBARRELLING on a monumental scale, pure and simple, but you are not going to have to worry about it because you have virtually no chance of winning Ballina, even with Sharon Cadwallader’s help.

  3. I don’t know Josh and I hoped he would be a decent candidate but he has made two statements that disqualify him in my eyes. To say all the Government grants in Ballina are because people went around the local MP and got in Ben Franklin’s ear is disgraceful – if it was true (which it isn’t) it would be a matter for ICAC. I do not want such an unethical and idiotic thought process in my local representative.

    Second he asserts the NSW Government is doubling koala numbers when 71% of our own koalas were killed during the Black summer fires. I don’t know if he was living in Queensland or Sydney during that time, but he seems unaware of the impact repeating that blatant government lie is upon a community that is trying so hard to save this species.

    The $200 million he refers to is over 4 years and instead of helping koalas much of the money is been used as a kind of ATM with big grants to Local Land Management Services and Biodiversity offsets so the money ends up in the pockets of farmers in exchange for not destroying koala habitat. This habitat should be protected by regulation. The money going to koalas is less than subsidies to logging which is destroying koala habitat on public and private land at an alarming rate.

    Josh I am guessing you are a nice guy in ignorance of whats happened here in the Northern Rivers and the facts around what is going on for koalas. The Nationals are determined to accelerate Logging and the Liberals who know how damaging this is are trying to buy their way out of the problem with koala funds but it is not working and koala numbers have crashed.

    A word of advice – stop saying the NSW Government is “doubling koala numbers” when we are despairing because the population numbers are in free fall. The next person who gives you this free advice may not be as polite as me.

  4. I’d be more than happy to give Josh and the rest of the deceitful Nationals some free advice, regarding their appalling environmental policies and the corrupt “pork-barrelling practices they constantly use to try and hold their dwindling voter base in these Central and North Coast seats that they once previously held with huge margins, that are now quite marginal. Catherine is right, we have had a gutful of the insidious efforts to buy our votes with outright bribes, and once the seat is retained the environmental vandalism just continues like the koala killing legislation enacted by the great Pork- Barilaro and cheered on by Chris Gulaptis. The world is changing rapidly regarding the environment, and political parties need to change also, otherwise there will be no wild animals left,. the Nationals no longer represent modern farmers who are very willing to implement modern sustainable farming practices. Josh and the Nationals are out of morals, out of modern ideas, out of excuses, and out of time; when you vote put the Nationals and One Nation last, it’s a toss up which is the worst.


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