INFRASTRUCTURE with "a business plan”, "hope and opportunity” and "effort, reward and growth” were the catch cries of the three candidates up for preselection for the National Party last Thursday.
Local businessman, Andrew Gordon, Tenterfield mayor Peter Petty and Tregeagle farmer, Austin Curtin, were taking part in a forum at Southern Cross University to put forward their credentials before the electorate votes on November 18 as to who will replace Thomas George MP as the next National Party state representative.
Cr Peter Petty addressed the audience of over 100 people first, saying it was important everyone in rural areas had access to infrastructure and services.
The Roads to Recovery program had been "one of the best things to happen in the state” and it was essential "infrastructure is funded and supported.”
Not having had the benefit of tertiary education, he "acknowledged” the importance in funding for education for future generations and said he would encourage private enterprise, particularly given tourism was the second biggest industry.
However, you cannot "promise anything if you don't have the budget to do it,” he said.
Cr Petty said he was "proud to be Australian and have the freedom to speak and protest”.
"The Nationals are the only party who represent regional Australia and get things done.
"Anyone who wants to have a go should be able to do that as an Australian.”
He ended his address by reciting Banjo Patterson.
"We all have a bit of Banjo Patterson in us,” he said.
Lismore real estate agent, Andrew Gordon, talked about the part his family had played in the community over successive generations and the importance of service.
It was not so much about "bridges and buildings but ... the next generation,” said Mr Gordon.
He wanted to hear the "concerns of the community and electorate” in order to provide the resources needed "so our children can be the best they can be”.
Mr Gordon cited he was on countless committees because he wanted "Lismore to be a success”.
There were many areas that needed improvement, and the city was full of "bad statistics” but it was also "a giant in the making” and he would work hard to make sure people were not leaving Lismore because "we cannot offer them the opportunities to stay.”
He said it was getting harder as the pre-selection process continued and would not be easy to "follow in the shoes of a political giant like Thomas George” but felt he was "equipped” to carry out the task, especially given he and his wife were now empty- nesters.
"I need to do what I am doing today because I want the Nationals to win. I want nationals to win because I believe they offer the most opportunity.”
At 38, Austin Curtin said he represented the median age of the country at the moment. His family came to the region in 1984 and "it was a privilege to have grown up in Lismore”, play basketball and baseball growing up.
He said he'd been through floods and fire, "crashed out on the old half pipe at The Square more times than he could remember as a kid.”
Having studied economics and communications at university, he went on to have a career in sales and marketing, human resources, agriculture and education before following his wife, Brownyn, to Western Australia to help further her career as a journalist. He then became a carpenter before the couple decided return to country NSW and take up macadamia growing on the family farm.
The couple both grew up in the "best part of Australia” and wanted the children to have the same.
Mr Curtin said the relationships he had fostered along the way would "stand him in good stead for the job” and he had learned communication was about listening and not about speaking”.
Mr Curtin said he wanted minimum government intervention and see sustainable population growth in rural towns. He believed in "profits for those who break their backs working harder than their competitors as well as the slogan; "effort, reward and growth”.
He intended to do this through "connection and following through.”
Lismore should be the service centre for the area, he said, and was not doing as well as its counterparts in Dubbo, and Wagga Wagga, Orange and Tamworth - "not by a long shot and we are capable of doing better.”
He had grown up in a town of people and in a family who "cares for real people and real people's issues.”
For him it was about: "connected communities growing together representing all the diverse groups in the seat of Lismore: business people farmers and families, conservationists, the disadvantaged, the artists, those who believe in a god and those who don't, the sports fanatics and the tuck shop volunteers.
"The person elected must understand their interests and be their voice, help them to achieve what they want to achieve in the seat of Lismore.”
Social media could divide with "unsubstantiated and personal attacks” and he was seeking to "connect” saying there were $1.6 billion in funds available for growing regional centres.
"I will be fighting for our share of that,” he said.
The Regional Sports Infrastructure fund should be used to make Lismore the first centre of excellence for baseball outside of major cities and the Regional Cultural Fund should be used to find the next Margaret Olley, Rhoda Roberts or Lyndon Terracini.
The Growing Local Economies Fund should encourage a culture of entrepreneurialism and micro-business needed for investment in the city and create jobs "to take people away from the coast, from Ballina and from Byron Byron Bay.”
Work was also needed in the areas of mental health, roads and police in small towns.
"I know Bonalbo needs a doctor right now,” he said.
Support for festivals such as Eat The Street would also help "develop an identity for ourselves”.
Mr Gordon believed re-establishing the rail line was "not a commercial reality” and it was instead important to "look forward” to improve public transport in other ways. On the environment, Mr Gordon said the status quo was sufficient, while Mr Austin said on the environment: "I think about the world my children will grow up in and believe in moving towards renewable energies. that is what sits well in my heart.”
All three candidates said the different regions within the electorate deserved to be understood and given equal representation.
The region of Murwullimbah was "green” and changing rapidly so it was "about going out to the different areas and listening to their issues,” said Mr Curtin.
Anyone who is enrolled to vote in the Lismore electorate can vote.
Polling day is 18 November 18 between the hours of 8am and 6pm:
Bonalbo: Bonalbo Memorial Hall, 4 Koreelah St.
Goonellabah: Goonellabah Community Centre, 27 Oliver Ave.
Kyogle: Kyogle Seniors' Centre, 3 Bloore St.
Lismore: Lismore Presbyterian Church, 188 Keen St.
Murwillumbah: Murwillumbah Civic and Cultural Centre,10-14 Tumbulgum Rd.
Tenterfield: Sir Henry Parkes Tenterfield School of Arts, 203 Rouse St.
For information: www.
It is the second time a community preselection process has taken place and is unique to The National Party, enabling the membership and locals to have a say on who represents them.
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