Election year.
Election year. Harry Bruce

Meet your candidates: Who's who in the local political zoo

WITH less than two months until voters go to the polls for the NSW election and later this year the Federal election, we take a look at the local characters of politics.

Election of the 57th Parliament of New South Wales, including all 93 seats in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly and 21 of the 42 seats in the New South Wales Legislative Council, will be held Saturday March 23.

To nominate as a candidate the lodgement of nomination period is from 8am Monday February 25, to 12pm Wednesday, March 6 although the online nomination system is open.

FEDERAL CANDIDATES FOR PAGE:

The electorate of Page includes the Lismore, Kyogle, Richmond River and Clarence River local government areas as well as parts of Ballina Shire and the City of Coffs Harbour. The electorate's main centres are Casino, Lismore and Grafton, the electorate also including Woolgoolga and some northern parts of Coffs Harbour. Page is a marginal seat that has gone with government at every election since 1990. It was won by National Kevin Hogan at the 2013 election.

Tally Room assessment: Page is a very marginal seat. Labor has a real shot at gaining back the seat.

  • Nationals - Kevin Hogan (incumbent)

 

Page MP Kevin Hogan has been pre-selected by The Nationals.
Page MP Kevin Hogan has been pre-selected by The Nationals. Liana Turner

The former school teacher and financial planner was first elected in 2013, when he defeated Labor MP of two terms Janelle Saffin on a wafer thin margin. He won re-election again in 2016, with an 0.8% swing against him. His main focus has been the economic development of the Northern Rivers, and has managed to deliver millions of dollars in infrastructure grants for various projects across the region. He has also been a consistent opponent of coal-seam gas industry, which neutralised Labor and Greens opponents when it was a hot button election issue.

  • Greens - Daniel Reid

 

Greens Candidate Daniel Reid at his press conference in Spinks Park in Lismore.
Greens Candidate Daniel Reid at his press conference in Spinks Park in Lismore. Marc Stapelberg

The 28-year-old university student and fourth generation son of the Northern Rivers is pledging to hold other parties to account on climate change, human rights and political donations from corporations. Mr Reid also said his policies included harmonisation regarding drug issues. In a press conference earlier this month, he said 70 per cent of people in Australia had a severe mistrust of politicians and a sincere belief politicians only acted in their own interest. But he said it was time for people to be able to trust those who represented them. "If this is not indicative we need change of governance in Australia then I don't know what is," he said. "It's time to remove parties who have vested interests from large corporate and sizable personal donors."He has also discussed the importance of funding for health, education and childcare, creating secure jobs and supporting businesses that don't compromise our environment and wellbeing. Mr Reid is studying political science and governance at Southern Cross University but will reduce his study next semester to fulfil his political commitments.

  • Labor - Patrick Deegan

 

Patrick Deegan has been preselected as Labor's candidate for the seat of Page.
Patrick Deegan has been preselected as Labor's candidate for the seat of Page.

The Casino man manages a regional service supporting families that are impacted by domestic violence, homelessness, mental health issues and financial stress. He works from Lismore, Casino and Grafton offices. He has lived in the Northern Rivers most of his life and is a long-term member of the labor party. Mr Deegan has previously said his campaign will be based on "standing up for the working people...impacted by cuts to penalty rates and who want proper funding for health, education and agriculture in our region."He has also listed services and infrastructure as a focus, including transport and NBN services.

 

FEDERAL CANDIDATES FOR RICHMOND:

Richmond covers an area from the New South Wales/Queensland border in the north to Ballina and Pimlico in the south. The main towns include Ballina, Bangalow, Brunswick Heads, Burringbar, Byron Bay, Hastings Point, Kingscliff, Lennox Head, Mullumbimby, Murwillumbah, Suffolk Park, and Tweed Heads.

Tally room assessment: Richmond is still a marginal seat, even though Labor has held on here for well over a decade. The Greens also have ambitions of winning this seat. They are still some way off overtaking Labor or the Nationals but are worth watching.

  • Labor - Justine Elliot (incumbent)

 

Member for Richmond Justine Elliot
Member for Richmond Justine Elliot Scott Powick

The former police officer has held the seat of Richmond since winning office in 2004. The electorate traditionally included Tweed and Byron Shires and part of Ballina Shire as far south as Lennox Head, but prior to the 2016 was expanded to include the town of Ballina (formerly part of Page). Richmond was a fairly safe Labor seat, but at the last election Elliot suffered a 4% swing against her and the seat now considered marginal. Before becoming a Federal MP, Elliot also worked as a Youth Justice Convenor with the NSW Department of Juvenile Justice. Her husband Craig Elliot also happens to be running for the state seat of Tweed against long-term Nationals incumbent Geoff Provest.

  • Nationals - Matthew Fraser

 

Matthew Fraser for the Nationals
Matthew Fraser for the Nationals John Gass

It will be the third time Mr Fraser has contested the seat after he ran in both 2013 and 2016 but lost to current Labor MP Justine Elliot. The Tweed Heads businessman owns Hungry Jacks in Tweed Heads South and also operates a range of international retail and distribution businesses.

  • Greens - Michael Lyon

 

Byron Shire Councillor Michael Lyon.
Byron Shire Councillor Michael Lyon. Contributed

The 44-year-old has been a Byron Shire Councillor since 2016, when he was elected as part of the Greens ticket on a platform of supporting local sustainable agriculture and a chemical-free shire. He was heavily involved on the committee of the last Richmond Campaign as Treasurer, which saw a swing of 5% to the Greens. He holds a Bachelor degrees in Law and Commerce and a CIMA professional qualification. He has been the General Manager of Santos Organics for the last six years, and turned the company which was near bankruptcy into a thriving not-for-profit and community hub for sustainable living.

STATE CANDIDATES FOR LISMORE:

The seat of Lismore covers the entirety of Lismore, Kyogle and Tenterfield council areas, and western parts of the Tweed council area.

Tally Room assessment: The Greens came close to winning Lismore in 2015 and will be hoping to do better at the next election. To achieve this, the Greens would need to stay ahead of Labor and then gain enough votes on preferences to close the 2.9 per cent margin.

  • Nationals - Austin Curtin

 

Tregeagle farmer, Austin Curtin is one of three men vying to become Lismore's Nationals candidate at the next state election.
Tregeagle farmer, Austin Curtin is one of three men vying to become Lismore's Nationals candidate at the next state election. Facebook, Austin Curtin

At 38-years-old the Tregeagle farmer set to replace retiring MP Thomas George at the 2019 state election, brings "a fresh face and new energy" to the party. Curtin grew up in Lismore and is the son of a Lismore trauma surgeon by the same name. The father-of-three and husband of an ABC journalist has degrees in economics and communications, and has worked in agriculture, education and human resources sectors. He said for his vision for the NSW seat of Lismore he will advocate for the areas of: health, agriculture, small business and industry, education and safer communities.

  • Greens - Sue Higginson

 

Sue Higginson has been announced as the Greens candidate for Lismore for the 2019 State Election.
Sue Higginson has been announced as the Greens candidate for Lismore for the 2019 State Election. Marc Stapelberg

A well known figure in Lismore, Ms Higginson was the solicitor for the Northern Rivers branch of the Environmental Defender's Office for several years and was instrumental in setting its local office up in 2006. She is also a dry land rice farmer on the Richmond flood plain who raised her family in the region, and has garnered respect across the political divide for her principled legal work. From 2012 she commuted to Sydney to take up the chief solicitor role with the EDO before becoming the organisation's CEO in 2015, until stepping down last November to become a member of the Greens, and seek pre-selection for the seat of Lismore. She has also lived in the Lismore region since her teens and has a grass roots activist past, having participated in anti-logging protests in the early 1990s before going on to become lawyer.

  • Labor - Janelle Saffin

 

Labor candidate for Page Janelle Saffin
Former Page MP Janelle Saffin has been endorsed as Labor's candidate for the state seat of Lismore. Contributed

The former Federal MP for the seat of Page left school at 13 and moved to Lismore when she was 24. Her career history began with unskilled labour, then social services in domestic violence support, and she later retrained as a lawyer. She won election to the Federal seat of Page in 2007 and retained the seat in 2010, but was unseated by Kevin Hogan in 2013 on a margin of under 3%. She is aligned with the left faction of the Labor party.

  • Independent - Greg Bennett

 

Greg Bennett Mayoral Candidate for Lismore City Council elections.
Greg Bennett Mayoral Candidate for Lismore City Council elections. Tony Betts

Independent Greg Bennett has spent the last seven years immersed in local government politics as a Lismore City councillor, but this is his first tilt at a state seat.

The retired Financial planner and agribusiness owner is the "Common Sense Independent candidate for the seat of Lismore standing up for traditional country and family values and for individual & property rights".

  • Animal Justice - Alison Waters

 

Alison Waters is the Animal Justice Party (AJP) candidate for the seat of Lismore.
Alison Waters is the Animal Justice Party (AJP) candidate for the seat of Lismore.

Local domestic and family violence worker Alison Waters has lived and worked in Lismore since 2001. Alison works at the Northern Rivers Community Legal Centre and is standing as an Animal Justice Party (AJP) candidate in the seat of Lismore. Alison is passionate about the protection of koala habitat, real action on climate change, and the banning of greyhound racing and other industries that use animals for sport and entertainment.

The Animal Justice Party (AJP) is a political party that formed in 2009 in response to the growing number of voters who feel strongly that much more needs to be done through our parliamentary systems to assist the wellbeing of animals. In 2015 the AJP made history when Mark Pearson became the first person in Australia to be elected to Parliament on an animal protection platform.

STATE CANDIDATES FOR BALLINA:

The Ballina state electorate encompasses Ballina and Byron Shires.

  • Greens - Tamara Smith (incumbent)

 

BALLINA MP: Greens Tamara Smith.
BALLINA MP: Greens Tamara Smith. Suze McLeod

She won office in 2015, and was the first non-Nationals MP ever to win office in the traditionally conservative seat of Ballina. It was also the first rural seat ever won by the Greens. A solicitor with a background in social justice and energy law, she is also a trained teacher and has worked in Ballina for almost 15 years. She campaigned hard against coal-seam gas in 2015, when fear and anger over the threat of the industry was white hot. More locally, she campaigned to "save" TAFE, and get funding for the Ballina Indoor Sports Centre, which has since been achieved.

  • Labor - Asren Pugh

 

Ambassador for white ribon day Asren Pugh speaking at the white ribon day in Ballina.  Photo Doug Eaton / The Northern Star
Ambassador for white ribon day Asren Pugh speaking at the white ribon day in Ballina. Photo Doug Eaton / The Northern Star Doug Eaton

A local union organiser and environmental activist who is based in Byron Bay and has been involved in various union roles for the last 10 years. His current role is the regional organiser for the Public Service Association (PSA) and was previously the assistant secretary of the Australian Services Union. He will be campaigning for high quality local health services, maintaining funding to local public education, and a push for a "bed tax" in Byron Shire.

  • Nationals: Ben Franklin

 

FORMER Ballina MP Don Page and Ballina mayor David Wright have backed Ben Franklin MLC as a hopeful Nationals candidate.
FORMER Ballina MP Don Page and Ballina mayor David Wright have backed Ben Franklin MLC as a hopeful Nationals candidate. Marc Stapelberg

The former state director of the Nationals attended elite Sydney private school Cranbrook and was elected to the Upper House in 2015 after pre-selection while a resident of North Shore Sydney. He then moved to Byron Bay and is currently the Parliamentary Secretary for Renewable Energy and Northern NSW.

  • Animal Justice - Cathy Blasonato

Experienced animal welfare and rights advocate Cathy Blasonato has been an animal advocate since her teenage years and has worked in animal welfare professionally and voluntarily since. As a vegan who has lived in the Ballina electorate for more than 25 years she says the time is right for animals to get greater representation in the NSW parliament. She is a strong believer in the link between the well-being of animals with our environment and health. She lists major challenges for the North Coast as habitat destruction, farm land being degraded, and farmed animals suffering from lack of fresh pastures and shade.

NSW UPPER HOUSE MEMBERS (MLCS) FROM THE NORTHERN RIVERS:

  • Greens - Dawn Walker

 

NSW Greens MP Dawn Walker has urged Nambucca Shire Council to reconsider its position on the Great National Koala Park.
NSW Greens MP Dawn Walker has urged Nambucca Shire Council to reconsider its position on the Great National Koala Park. NSW Greens

Walker is aligned with the environmental wing of the party in the mould of founder Bob Brown, as opposed to the so-called "watermelons" who have a large influence on the NSW Greens, and are led by Senator Lee Rhiannon and NSW MP David Shoebridge. She has recently campaigned against the NSW Government's proposed to native logging regulations which conservationists argue could open up widespread logging in sensitive areas of state forests which were once protected.

  • Nationals - Benjamin Franklin

 

FORMER Ballina MP Don Page and Ballina mayor David Wright have backed Ben Franklin MLC as a hopeful Nationals candidate.
FORMER Ballina MP Don Page and Ballina mayor David Wright have backed Ben Franklin MLC as a hopeful Nationals candidate. Marc Stapelberg

The former state director of the Nationals attended elite Sydney private school Cranbrook and was elected to the Upper House in 2015 after pre-selection while a resident of North Shore Sydney. He then moved to Byron Bay and is currently the Parliamentary Secretary for Renewable Energy and Northern NSW.

  • Liberal - Catherine Cusack

 

Catherine Cusack
Catherine Cusack Jacklyn Wagner

The long-serving NSW Liberal was elected to the state's Upper House back in 2003. Prior to that she was the first female NSW Young Liberal president and served on the Liberal Party executive from 2000 to 2003. She has served in a number of roles while in Opposition and Government (since 2011), and is currently the Parliamentary Secretary for Digital Inclusion. She is also married to former Northern NSW Local Health District boss Chris Crawford.