The National Party candidate for Cowper must immediately declare where he stands on critical issues like tax cuts, penalty rates, schools funding, Medicare, climate change, new coal-fired power stations, unemployment, the NBN, the banking industry, Coffs Bypass, Kempsey Council and the Great Koala National Park.

The electorate needs to understand if the Nationals have served up more of the same or have a candidate prepared to take on the dinosaurs inside the party.

We need to know whether Patrick Conaghan is going along for the ride or will challenge his party on its chronic failure in Cowper. My hopes are not high.

The Nationals have chosen a locally residing high-end lawyer who works in Sydney – a curious choice for a party that claims to represent farmers, small business and regional communities.

A candidate can have the best of intentions and I am sure Mr Conaghan is a well-meaning and nice enough person who has done well professionally in life.

While the calibre of the candidate is important, the focus should be on the party and not the person. The issue is policy and what each of the major parties can offer the people of Port Macquarie, Coffs Harbour, Kempsey and the coast.

Mr Conaghan must also immediately declare if he supports the socially, environmentally and economically disastrous trenches design put forward by the Nationals in Sydney and Canberra for the Coffs Harbour Bypass.

He must also tell us whether he will question mismanagement in Kempsey Council; the ridiculous cinema project and the outrageous proposed expansion of the pilot training school at the airport.

Sadly, we are at the bottom of many lists thanks to the Nationals. Our problems with unemployment, government services, pensions, housing affordability, fairness and equality are many, chronic and complex.

The reality is that his party, their policies, their out-of-touch priorities and their coalition partner, the Liberals, will dictate how Port Macquarie, Coffs Harbour, Kempsey and the coast fares. And that’s not well.

We have had 55 years of continuous National Party representation in Cowper, and that’s resulted in us under achieving and being left behind.

After years of under achievement and lost opportunity under the National Party, we need a loud voice inside an incoming Labor Government, and we will only get that by electing a Labor member for Cowper.



Ten yes/no questions which Mr Conaghan must immediately answer are:

Are you like most Nationals and opposed to the Banking Industry Royal Commission?

Do you like most Nationals support the temporarily abandoned $80 billion in tax cuts for big business, including $17 billion for the banks?

Do you support The National’s removal of weekend penalty rates for potentially one-in-four workers in Cowper?

Do you think it is acceptable that general unemployment in many parts of Cowper under The Nationals is twice that of Sydney?

Do you think it is acceptable that youth unemployment in many parts of Cowper under The Nationals is now impacting 20 per cent of youth?

Do you support The Nationals’ plans for the construction of new coal-fired powered stations and their push for nuclear power?

Do you support The Nationals’ war against clean, renewable energy and real action on climate change?

Do you support The Nationals’ decision to provide $22 million less for schools in Cowper in 2018 and 2019 than Labor?

Do you support The Nationals’ sub-standard rollout of the NBN in Cowper – or do you prefer Labor’s plan for fibre-to-the-curb?

Do you support The Nationals’ cuts across vital public services, like the ABC, TAFE, veterans entitlements, CSIRO, Medicare and apprenticeships?


Do you support Labor’s plan for a National Integrity Commission (a bigger and better ‘federal ICAC’)?

Why after 55 years of continuous National Party representation does Cowper have the fifth highest level of disadvantage in the country?

Why after 55 years of continuous National Party representation does Cowper have the highest percentage of people living below the poverty line in the country?

Why under the Nationals does Port Macquarie have a forecast employment growth rate twice that of Coffs Harbour?

Why is the number of jobs in primary industry (Agriculture, fisheries and forestry) forecast to fall by the federal government by 2.6 per cent in Cowper between 2017 and 2018, when overall employment at the same time is expected to grow by eight per cent (over five years)?

Why are there 2,000 applicants on the public housing waiting list in Cowper?

Why are there 3,200 people on the public hospital waiting list in Cowper?

Do you support the government’s personal tax cuts which are half that of Labor’s for the average worker in Cowper?

Do you support the Federal Government’s cut for subsidised child care to one in five families on the North Coast?

Do you support the government’s cutting the pension to 750 people in Cowper and reducing the pension by an average of $132 a fortnight for another 2,000 pensioners?

Are you opposed to Labor’s changes to negative gearing to help young families and others obtain home ownership where many average house prices in Cowper is now over $500,000?


Had you had a vote, who would you have supported for PM? Turnbull, Abbott, Dutton, Morrison or Bishop?

Who do you support as National Party leader? Michael McCormack or Barnaby Joyce?

How did you vote in the Marriage Equality Plebiscite?

Do you support Australia having an Australian citizen as Head-of-State or do you want to keep The Queen of England as our Head-of-State?

Do you think Luke Hartsuyker did a good job for Cowper?