LABOR’S candidate for Upper Hunter Jeff Drayton has emphasised the need to focus on employment and job growth to ensure a healthy future for the region.
With all the issues key to this by-election, Mr Drayton said the most resounding issue is jobs and said he would introduce legislation to make mining jobs safer and more secure as well as advocate for a real jobs plan for the region’s industrial future.
“Labor has offered our mining plan. Miners have had enough. People pretend to support them but they’re just words. I will fight for jobs and investment in key industries including mining. I’ll fight for investment in services to bring more doctors, nurses and social workers to the Upper Hunter,” Mr Drayton said.
Mr Drayton also said the electorate can only expect to enjoy the National Party’s attention for two more days before they are essentially ignored after this weekend’s by-election.
“One thing is certain though, the Nationals will go missing again after Saturday, just like they were missing for 90 years.
“So I’m urging residents to enjoy this flurry of interest. Spot a National while you can, then vote for a candidate who will fight for you every day of the year, not just during a crucial by-election. That’s what I will do.”
“We really have been neglected in this electorate for a long while. The Nationals has held this seat for 90 years, we’ve never held this seat but we just can’t continue to cop what we’ve had to cop in this electorate,” Mr Drayton said.
“I understand we’ve been neglected and left out by this government, by the Nationals for a long time in the Upper Hunter. At the start of these six weeks, I didn’t understand the level of neglect but now have a deeper understanding of the true level of need in our communities and community service groups – whether it’s emergency housing or caseworker support for our at-risk kids, and issues surrounding homelessness, that really needs a lot of attention and lots of work,” Mr Drayton said.
“I’ve lived in this electorate my whole life and there are carloads and carloads coming up from Sydney. I’m not saying none of them have ever been here before but I’ve certainly never seen them and none of the other locals have, or at least they’ve told me that,” he said.
“The amount of money we send down to Sydney and get nothing back, that really motivates me. I just wish that the carloads of National Party operatives they’ve been sending up from Sydney could have brought back some of the $800 million of mining royalties we send down so we can start benefiting here in the Upper Hunter,” Mr Drayton said.
“I would definitely encourage people to make the most of these unusual times because no matter who wins on Saturday you can be assured that the National Party will forget about us again.
The other issues motivating Labor at the end of this campaign include getting the fair share of mining royalties to the Upper Hunter.
“We aren’t getting the investment we need and deserve. Our coal mining industry sends $800 million a year to Sydney, but we only get $10 million back. We need more investment right across our community – whether it’s schools, hospitals, roads or facilities for our frontline services like police and firefighters,” Mr Drayton said.
He also stressed children are getting left behind. “We don’t have caseworkers for kids in need; families in need can’t access housing; our schools don’t have proper classrooms and our TAFE campuses are being sold off and underfunded,” he said.
“In just six weeks we have had some good wins: whether it’s Kayuga rural fire brigade getting a station, Singleton getting the full bypass it deserves and Muswellbrook Hospital getting an operating theatre for its surgical ward.
“I’ve lived in this electorate all my life and I know our roads, hospitals and schools have been badly neglected. That’s why I put my hand up.
“We send $800 million a year to Sydney in mining royalties and we shouldn’t have to beg for services and infrastructure taken for granted in the city.
“This election will be close. A vote for the National Party means our region will just keep sending money down to Sydney while getting nothing in return.
“I’m asking voters to give me a chance, so I can fight for our fair share.”
For more information on where candidates stand: Voting 101: Upper Hunter by-election.