Local, Politics

They are off and running in Cowper.

COWPER has been flagged as an important seat to watch in NSW at the forthcoming May 18 federal election.

By Tracey Fairhurst

Top left, Andrew Woodward for Labor; top right, independent Rob Oakeshott; bottom left, Patrick Conaghan for the Nationals and bottom right, Lex Stewart for the United Australia Party.
Top left, Andrew Woodward for Labor; top right, independent Rob Oakeshott; bottom left, Patrick Conaghan for the Nationals and bottom right, Lex Stewart for the United Australia Party.

Prime minister Scott Morrison called the election at 8am Wednesday (April 11), firing the starter’s gun on a five-week race to the finish line.

Opinion polls are pointing to the Liberal-National coalition losing power to Labor after five-and-a-half years in office.

Neither major party is expected to win majority control of the Senate, with half of the 76-seat upper house up for grabs.

After a national redrawing of seat boundaries, the coalition starts with a notional 73 seats (down from 74) with Labor on 72 (up from 69).

Mr Morrison became prime minister in August after the Liberal Party dumped Malcolm Turnbull amid a failed leadership coup by Peter Dutton.

Prime minister Scott Morrison has called the federal election for May 18.
Prime minister Scott Morrison has called the federal election for May 18.

Independent MP Rob Oakeshott, who helped deliver Julia Gillard minority government in 2010, is taking another shot at returning to parliament in the wake of Nationals MP Luke Hartsuyker retiring.

He faces the Nationals’ Patrick Conaghan in the marginal Mid-North Coast seat.

A redistribution shifted the seat south to encompass Port Macquarie at the 2016 election, and Mr Oakeshott, who previously represented Lyne, contested Cowper and came within five per cent of defeating Mr Hartsuyker.

Retiring after 17 years in the seat, Mr Hartsuyker this week took an pre-emptive swipe at Oakeshott labelling him a “Labor stooge”.

All people have the right to strong, honest and selfless representation in Canberra.Patrick Conaghan

“I have spent the past five months travelling through our townships knocking on thousands of doors meeting residents, business owners and community groups to listen to their concerns and wants for the future,” Mr Conaghan said.

Mr Hartsuyker has thrown his weight behind Mr Conaghan who says he is ready to face the challenges of the next five weeks. 

“Cowper is one of the largest electorates in NSW and each town and village has its own diversity and community needs.

“Our residents deserve their fair share and the opportunity to thrive in a prosperous economy. All people have the right to strong, honest and selfless representation in Canberra.”

This election is a chance for the people of Port Macquarie, Coffs Harbour, Kempsey and the Mid-North Coast to usher in a positive, prosperous and sustainable future. Andrew Woodward

Labor candidate Andrew Woodward said this election is about policy, stability and fairness.

“The era of political personalities and cuts, chaos and division must end,” Mr Woodward said.

“Under the National Party, we have been taken for granted. We have been neglected. We have missed out. We have fallen behind. We have been let down. More of the same is not good enough. Enough is enough.

“This election is a chance for the people of Port Macquarie, Coffs Harbour, Kempsey and the Mid-North Coast to usher in a positive, prosperous and sustainable future for this and future generations. We’re ready. I am ready.”

He said there are four key issues in Cowper this election including addressing the crisis in youth unemployment and chronic general unemployment; preserving, restoring and protecting the environment and acting on climate change;  increasing fairness and reducing inequality for all people locally; and restoring stability to government.

Competition is a wonderful thing in politics and it allows all community groups, all citizens in our local area to put pressure on politicians to get the results we deserve. Rob Oakeshott

Independent Rob Oakeshott said now is the time for people to use their vote to change the course of the electorate.

“I stand seeking improved results for our local community and improved standards within our national parliament,” Mr Oakeshott said.

“Over this past three years, there has been obvious failure to deal with increased costs of living such as higher energy bills and higher childcare costs, failure to deliver equitable NDIS and NBN as promised, failure to address some of the highest rates of youth unemployment in Coffs, failure to address suicide rates in the Macleay, failure to deliver a national dementia strategy, and failure to complete the Coffs Harbour bypass despite both major parties promising it would be done 20 years ago.

“I stand because of the failure of both major parties to keep a prime minister for more than a year, and the increasing damage they both continue to do to our international reputation on a number of issues. So I stand for better community results and a better Parliament.”

United Australia Party’s Lex Stewart was contacted for comment.

First published at the Port Macquarie News, Thursday 11 April 2019.

See: https://www.portnews.com.au/story/6022279/starters-gun-fired-in-federal-election-race-for-cowper/?cs=12961



One Comment

  1. There are some who will never again vote for Rob Oakeshott (or Tony Windsor) because of
    their decision in 2010 when they supported the Labor Government of Julia Gillard. Both had
    begun their political careers as members of the National Party but had subsequently become
    Independent, and most of the nation expected that they would join the “third amigo”, Bob
    Katter, and put Tony Abbott into the Lodge.
    National Party supporters, who are intensely loyal, will never forgive them for doing the
    unexpected and handing power to the Left.
    For me it was a simple choice borne out by the tide of subsequent events. Tony Abbott would
    have made a bad PM and his continuing personal venom continues to pollute our nation to
    this day. However, to fully understand Oakeshott’s dilemma and the choice that he finally
    made after an infamous 17 days and 17 minutes, you need to read his autobiography. It is a
    fascinating account of the politics of that time that castes a long shadow over our Federal
    election in 2019.
    The Rob Oakeshott of 2019 is a more cautious and measured candidate. He suffered defeat in
    2016, his first ever in six attempts to represent an electorate. For this election he has
    assembled a cohort of more than 500 backers in Cowper with whom he has promised to
    consult in the event of another hung parliament. The more likely scenario is that he will join a
    significant block of Independents on the floor of a Shorten Labor government where his
    experience, intelligence and strong community roots will prove to be of incalculable value.

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