Nationals unveil North Coast Policy

Leader of the NSW Nationals Andrew Stoner (right) and Ballina MP Don Page at the Nationals annual general conference in Ballina last week.

Building the Alstonville bypass, reinstating the Casino to Murwillumbah rail line and appointing a Minister for the North Coast are the key elements of the Nationals North Coast Policy, unveiled at their annual general conference in Ballina last week.

Ballina MP Don Page says the current NSW Government is very city-centric and says if the Nationals win at the state election next March, there will be greater investment in infrastructure and services for regional areas. This includes more money for local hospitals and community-based preschools.

Despite a $700 million Budget deficit this year Mr Page said unlike Labor, which promised the Alstonville bypass would be built by 2006, The Nationals would deliver on their promises.

When we get to government well have a proper indication of how good or bad the books are. Whatever the case, well find the money for the Alstonville bypass and the train line by rearranging priorities or taking funds from a project Labor has planned in metropolitan areas, Mr Page said. The other option is to increase borrowing to invest in infrastructure.

Claims by Labor that some 30,000 public sector jobs will go to fund the promised spending were refuted by Mr Page.

What weve announced is we will have a recruitment freeze on non-frontline public sector jobs in the city the recruitment freeze does not extend to country areas and were not sacking anyone, Mr Page said. When non-frontline people retire or leave they simply wont be replaced, which will generate significant savings.

Mr Page said there were also other avenues to shore up funds.

Well be reducing what the government spends on self-promotion, advertising and consultants to better fund our community preschools, Mr Page said. Well be prepared to borrow money to invest in our future rather than debt reduction we want to bring the Lismore Base Hospital redevelopment and the construction of the Byron Shire hospital forward. We believe in investing in essential infrastructure to cater for our future needs, which hasnt been happening under Labor.

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