Country Labor candidate Charlie Sheahan officially launched his by-election campaign in Cootamundra this morning with just two weeks left until voters hit the ballot boxes.
The well-known Cootamundra local is running on a platform of more investment in heath, specifically aged and home care, education and a fully-funded TAFE.
He’s also committed to reversing council amalgamations and said that while Junee Shire Council escaped a merge, voters should remain skeptical.
“A couple of weeks ago at the budget estimates meeting Peter Primrose challenged local government minister Gabrielle Upton who wouldn’t deny mergers were still on the table,” he said.
While Premier Gladys Berejiklian moved quickly issuing a statement saying definitively no more councils would merge, Sheahan claims the reluctance to publish the KPMG report is cause for distrust.
“The KPMG report has never been revealed, we believe that’s because it could include details of further planned amalgamations.”
“If they get a Nat up again it could be the green light.”
He visited Junee last week with the Shadow Treasurer Ryan Park to berate the government’s approach to energy prices.
NSW Labor recently released the outcome of a freedom of information request by the party, revealing the government had Essential Energy pour $1.7 million in legal fees to fight a push by the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) to reduce power bills.
The documents show Essential Energy spent $1,774,866 to challenge the AER’s price cuts.
“Families and small businesses are facing record power bills - because the Government did everything it could to drive the price up ahead of privatisation,” Mr Park said.
Mr Sheahan said residents in the Cootamundra-electorate are struggling with cost of living.
“Baird made a pledge on the eve of the election to guarantee the sale of poles and wires wouldn’t see prices go up, guaranteeing to keep prices at 2014 levels. That’s clearly a broken promise,” he said.
“We need to re-regulate the industry a bit more to put downward pressure on prices.”
It was Sheahan’s first and likely only visit to Junee during the campaign.
He was recently elected to Cootamundra-Gundagai’s merged council, but insists if elected he won’t be short on time for the wider electorate.
“I was born and bred and raised out here, many of the issues Coota faces are also problems in areas like Junee,” he said.
“I have no trouble saying I can fully represent all the people of the electorate and fight for issues from the closure of small schools at Grong Grong and lack of police presence at Barellan.”