Jul 18

Still no Orange candidate for the Labor party ahead of the state election

RUBBING SHOULDERS: Orange Country Labor branch member Joe Maric with opposition leader Bill Shorten and Orange branch members Gavin Hillier and Gregson Edwards at the annual conference in Queanbeyan. Photo: SUPPLIEDDELEGATES from the Orange Country Labor branch mingled with opposition leaders John Robertson and Bill Shorten over the weekend but there is still no Orange candidate for the Labor party ahead of the state election in March.

Member for Orange Andrew Gee announced in July he would re-contest the seat of Orange for the Nationals, but three months on he is still without a competitor.

Orange Country Labor president Gavin Hillier said he expected the announcement to be made this week and believed the position would be uncontested.

Central West Community Union Alliance representative Bernard Fitzsimon has been the only person to publicly declare an interest.

“That has to come from head office,” he said.

He said he did not believe the delay had hurt the party’s chances at reducing the margin held by Mr Gee which sits at 23 per cent.

“If you make a seat marginal then that seat is more noticed by both sides of politics and then you get better outcomes,” he said.

Other than the lack of a candidate, Mr Hillier said the annual Country Labor conference in Queanbeyan over the weekend was positive.

The opposition leaders have issues facing the central west at the forefront of their minds according to Mr Hillier.

Mr Robertson spoke about job losses in rural and regional areas and specifically at Electrolux in his address at the conference.

“The regional jobs crisis is being completely ignored by the Baird-Grant government – and it is only Labor that has a jobs plan,” Mr Robertson said.

“Already, we have announced a Regional Agricultural and Manufacturing Promotion Scheme. As the resources boom winds down, we will make available a dedicated pool of capital to help workers retrain and industries restructure.”

Mr Hillier said the Country Labor party was focused on the issues affecting regional people when it came to the introduction of the $7 GP co-payment and cuts to university education which, he said, would force graduates into higher paid metropolitan jobs.

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