Roll Up for the By-election

BY DI SNEDDON

All attention is on the Upper Hunter with the May 22 by-election catalyst for a string of high-profile political visitors to the region over the past week.

Among them Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Deputy Premier John Barilaro, Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party Leader Robert Borsak, NSW Labor leader Jodi McKay, Greens David Shoebridge, One Nation’s Mark Latham, all spruiking what they can do for the region.

Over the past fortnight nine people have put their hand up for the by-election.

In order of their announcement are Dave Layzell (Nationals), Sue Gilroy (Shooters, Fishers and Farmers), Jeff Drayton (Labor), Eva Pears (Liberal Democratic), independents Kate Fraser, Steve Reynolds, Tracy Norman, Dale McNamara (One Nation), and Sue Abbott (Greens).

Already promised by both Labor and the Coalition is the design change for the Singleton by-pass to include an interchange at Putty Road to allow for easy access to the town’s CBD.

Nationals leader John Barilaro also said the design for the Muswellbrook by-pass will include connection to Coal Road.  Shovels in the dirt for both projects will be early next year.

Mr Barilaro said Mr Layzell’s success in the by-election will see completion of the Singleton by-pass by 2026, good news for those behind the wheels of the 20,000 vehicles that drive through the town each day.

All candidates have mentioned the need for co-existence between agriculture and coal, the importance of job security, the economic contribution the region makes to the state and the need for strong representation.

The Upper Hunter electorate is one of 93 electorates in New South Wales.

It is the fourth largest electorate and covers 27,687.5 square kilometres.

The by-election was brought about by the resignation of sitting member Michael Johnsen on March 31, two years into his four-year term.

The coalition held a one-seat majority in the NSW Lower House before Mr Johnsen’s resignation.

If the Nationals don’t win the seat it will not only break the 88-year hold by the party on the Upper Hunter, it will remove the Coalition’s balance of power in the NSW lower house making it very difficult for the government to govern which is why the by-election is receiving so much attention and the reason why council and community representatives are making the most of the opportunity to raise the issues that matter here in the Upper Hunter.