TRIUMPHANT Richmond MP Justine Elliot's first priority in her fourth term in office will be to force a debate on coal seam gas mining in the NSW State Parliament.
A petition to have the NSW North Coast declared CSG free, launched in February, attracted 12,000 signatures and is expected to be lodged by the State Deputy Opposition Leader Linda Burney within days, triggering a debate that will take place within weeks.
It is all part of Mrs Elliot and former Page MP Janelle Saffin's plan to force North Coast Nationals MPs Thomas George (Lismore), Don Page (Ballina) and Chris Gulaptis (Clarence) to clearly declare their views on CSG.
"We have to flush them out and get them to come clean," Mrs Elliot said over a cup of coffee at a local shopping centre.
She said with both the Federal and State governments in Coalition hands, CSG mining companies were poised to strike in the Northern Rivers.
Mrs Elliot said another priority for her would be placing pressure on the Coalition to deliver funding to fix up Kennedy Drive, as promised during the recent federal election campaign.
"They're waiting for the regulatory regime to change, so we have a huge battle ahead of us," she said.
Mrs Elliot said another priority for her would be placing pressure on the Coalition to deliver funding to fix up Kennedy Dr, as promised during the recent federal election campaign.
"We've seen in the past a lot of weasel words.
"We'll be pressuring them," she said.
"The National Party historically hasn't delivered for the North Coast.
"It looks like the only thing they are going to deliver the electorate is coal seam gas."
Mrs Elliot said the two most likely contenders for the Labor leadership after Kevin Rudd stepped down on election night - Labor frontbencher Bill Shorten and current deputy leader Anthony Albanese - were both strong candidates.
She believes Mr Rudd should remain in Parliament despite calls within his own party to quit amid fears he will be a destabilising force.
"I think he can still contribute a huge amount," Mrs Elliot said.
She paid tribute to the former Labor MP for Page, Janelle Saffin, who lost her seat on Saturday to the Nationals' Kevin Hogan.
She said the pair used to work as a team to "monster" federal ministers for funds for the North Coast.
- Confused? Matthew Fraser claimed there was no commercially viable deposits of CSG in the Tweed. What do you think? Leave your comments below.
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