First Newsletter

Welcome to the December 2018 edition of first, a monthly newsletter from the Cowper campaign.


What a month it has been in federal politics. I have been a close watcher or participant in politics for 30 or so years, and I haven’t seen anything quite like what we are going through with this government and this Prime Minister.

While there is a weird sense of satisfaction seeing the Liberals and Nationals unravel due to poor policy, internal ideological wars and short-term thinking, the unfortunate reality is that we’re all losers out of this. Energy and climate change policy is an excellent national example. Locally, the Coffs Harbour Bypass is a good example. They are paralysed on issues like these; at a time when we need action more than ever. So, I take no real pleasure from seeing this.

Being smug and saying “I told you so” isn’t the answer. The answer is a Labor Government with policies fit-for-purpose for the towns, state, country and world we live in. And that Labor Government should have a local Labor voice in it.


One of the things I keep hearing about is the need for a long-term vision for the country. Bill Shorten is speaking a lot about his long-term vision for the country. I also get asked about what mine is for the local area.

I want a place where you can be what you want to be. If you want to retire here with all the services, great. If you’re going to be an entrepreneur and take on the world, great. If you’re going to lead the simple life, great. If you want to get an excellent education and work part-time, even better. If you’re going to tap the growing organic good market, fantastic. We should be an area that offers choices. The more options you have, the better life you will have. You can read more here: LINK


I also got asked recently about political campaigning styles. Like everyone, I dislike negative politics. But often someone like me is put in an awkward position because we’re asked about issues and, like it or not, the problem or response is at times negative. Sometimes we see things that need to be called out. And this federal government has so many negatives it is hard not to be critical.

Of course, we should endeavour to be a positive campaign and talk about the issues. But we need to be pragmatic and real-world about it. Identifying and discussing issues is not negative politics. It is how you solve problems. That’s how I work. I don’t shy away from anything. I will talk about what we need to talk about and not merely about what people like or want to hear.

I can’t be positive about this government’s approach to energy policy, climate change, National Broadband Network, schools, hospitals, workers’ rights, housing affordability and science to name a few. National Party conryism is entrenched and must be fought.

I am very positive about Labor’s plans and policies. In all of my years of involvement in the party, I have never seen us with a better suite of policies to take to an election.


I will be emailing you again in a week, seeking your help with my campaign in 2019. We’re on track for an election on the second or third Saturday in May. We will be very active in 2019 with market stalls, information distribution and public meetings. We also have to staff pre-election and election day polling stations. We will need help. I will be in touch soon. So, please give some thought to how much you can help and how.


Labor has made several great announcements this month. Here are the highlights:

Housing: In Melbourne, Bill delivered the first of two great speeches on housing policy. I recently hosted the Shadow Minister for Housing and Homelessness, Senator Doug Cameron, in Coffs for a forum with the community services sector. Bill; touched on many of the issues raised in this forum. Here’s a copy of Bill’s speech: LINK.

Energy: Bill and Shadow Climate Change and Energy Minister, Mark Butler, released Labor’s plans for energy policy. It is pretty comprehensive and has been well received. This is the first of a series of major announcements Labor will be be making on energy and climate change. It is the start and not the end. Read more here: LINK.

Science: I put a very high value on science. In 2017, I completed my Master of Environmental Management, undertaken through the Institute of Environmental Science at the University of NSW, one of the world’s great climate change, renewable energy and environmental schools. Bill made a great speech and announcement this week on rededicating Australia to science. You can read more here: LINK.


I will be out and about at markets in December:

  • 1st – Valla
  • 2nd – Coffs Jetty
  • 9th – Port Macquarie
  • 10th – Coffs Uptown

Andrew and the Country Labor candidate for Oxley, Susan Jenvey, at Dorrigo Show last weekend.


My Sydney Campaign Event has been postponed and will now be even better. I have an afternoon of fun with tall tales and ‘war stories’ from the Hawke and Keating governments. Speaking will be the former Minister for Tourism and Sport, John Brown, the former Minister for Communications, Michael Lee, and a former staffer with both Bob Hawke and Paul Keating, Simon Balderstone. Tell your Sydney friends about it! More details here: LINK


The Shadow Minister for Communications, Michelle Rowland visited Cowper in early November with engagements in Coffs Harbour, Bellingen, Kempsey and Port Macquarie. Michelle at the end of the visit said she hadn’t been anywhere in Australia with a ‘digital divide’ or mix of NBN deployment quite like Cowper. Our “mix” is:

  • Fibre-to-the-premises: Coffs
  • Fibre-to-the-node: Port (with some new areas with premises), Kempsey, Macksville, Nambucca and Urunga.
  • Fibre-to-the-curb: Dorrigo and Bellingen (with 20 per cent of Bellingen, stupidly, remaining on Fixed Wireless).

This is a classic example and inequality. You can read more about what Michelle has to say here: LINK.  Or you can watch us here:

or listen in here:


The best way to keep in touch is via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The website also contains plenty of information –



Welcome to first, the first of a new monthly newsletter, coming out around the first of the month to update supporters of our local Labor campaign. In Cowper, Labor is all about putting people first; being first in the campaign and then coming first on election day. 

This newsletter will hit on the key things happening in the campaign. If you want more information and more regularly, you can check out the campaign website – – or find us on social media on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter

Overall, I am feeling pretty good. We’re getting a great response to our policies and campaign. This far out from election day, we are exactly where we need to be. We’re leading on several issues; pursuing the government relentlessly on the embarrassing shambles that the Coffs Harbour Bypass has become; getting coverage in the media; generating lots of interest on social media and being well received when we are out and about in the community.

Many ask, when’s the election? I believe it will be held in either early February or mid to late May. My money is on the latter. Whether the election is in four weeks time or six months time, we are ready. We are ready in Cowper. We are ready nationally. 

The National Party will get a bit of attention over the next week as this Saturday they will choose their candidate for Cowper. I will have more to say about this then. Irrespective of who wins preselection on Saturday, the issue at the upcoming election is not the person – it is the party. We have had 55 years of continuous National Party representation in Cowper and that’s resulted in us under achieving and being left behind. 

In the coming weeks, we will be coming to you asking how you want to get involved in the campaign. We can win, but we need to build the team and to go up a few gears in early 2019. We also have to help our state candidates for their election on 23 March. 

But for the moment, here’s a quick look at what I think you need to know.

In solidarity,




The federal Shadow Minister for Communication, Michelle Rowland, will be visiting the electorate of Cowper next Monday and Tuesday to talk about Labor’s plans for the NBN, ABC and other communications and media policy issues, including poor mobile telephone reception. 

I have asked Michelle to visit Cowper in response to going concerns about the state of the NBN and internet connectivity, reduced local media content and poor mobile telephone coverage on the Mid-North Coast. Here are the program and details of where you can meet Michelle or hear her on the radio:

Monday, 5 November 2018

11.00 am to 12.30 pm, Industry Forum at Innovation Hub Coffs Coast, Innovation Hub Coffs Coast (Doug Knight Drive, Coffs Harbour, Google Maps )
More details: LINK

2.30 pm to 3.30 pm, Community Meeting, Bellingen Golf Club, (1172 Waterfall Way, Bellingen, LINK )
Register here: LINK

5.00 pm to 6.30 pm, Community Meeting, Great Northern Hotel, Kempsey, (40 Elbow St, West Kempsey, LINK)
Register here: LINK

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

8.30 am to 9.00 am, Media Interview, ABC Port Macquarie



We will be active at community markets up until election day. The schedule for November is:

  • 3 November – Kempsey
  • 4 November – Coffs Harbour Jetty
  • 10 November – Port Macquarie
  • 17 November – Bellingen


Copy of Eventbrite CitC v3 with Baldo
I am holding a fundraising event in Sydney for party supporters and friends. Anyone is welcome! So if you have any friends, colleagues, family or other contacts in Sydney, let them know about this event. It is on Sunday, 18 November 2018 at The Oaks Hotel at Neutral Bay at 4.00 pm.

Members of the Hawke and Keating Governments will come together to share tall tales about their times in the Ministry, governments and offices of two of our greatest leaders.

Our second confirmed speaker is Simon Balderstone AM, a staffer to both Bob and Paul. Simon will join The Hon. John Brown, former Minister for Sport and Tourism and Member for Parramatta, 1977 to 1990 for an afternoon of tall tales and war stories. Another speaker will be announced soon.

Please send your friends this link:



The Coffs Harbour Bypass is the single largest infrastructure project ever undertaken in the federal electorate of Cowper. So far, the handling by the federal and state governments has been a complete and embarrassing shambles. Country Labor Candidate for Coffs Harbour, Tony Judge, and I are on the case. 

In short, the three expected tunnels have been dumped for trenches – 30 to 50 per cent bigger than the cruise liner the QE2! The trenches design proposed by the governments on the long known route is way higher, noisier, uglier and dirtier than previously announced. What the Nationals are planning is a social, environmental and economic disaster. 

 Our position is very, very clear:

  1. Labor in principle supports the Coffs Harbour Bypass project.
  2. From 2008 to 2018, the community expected tunnels and the governments must deliver.
  3. The governments should have completed all critical studies before releasing a ‘Preferred Concept Design’.
  4. We need to know the real reasons why the tunnels were dumped, when and who approved this. 
  5. The governments have misled the community about their public reasons for changing the design. 
  6. The governments must complete all critical studies this year and release all reports. 
  7. The governments must keep public consultation open for one month after the release of the last new report. 
  8. The governments are a long way from reaching consensus with the community on the route and design.
  9. Governments should scrap the current design and release a revised Preferred Concept Design in the first quarter of 2019. 
  10. The governments need to come clean on the Coffs Harbour Bypass project.

You can read more on Labor’s work on the bypass at and a submission that myself and the Country Labor Candidate for Coffs Harbour put in as a part of the public consultation process. You can read a summary here – LINK – and download a detailed 10-page report at this page. LINK


181031 Public schools funding boost in Cowper

Public schools in Cowper will be $22.2 million better off over three years under a federal Labor Government. Labor today released school-by-school details of its plans to spend $14 billion on public schools over its first three years in office.

You can look up how much better off each school will be by visiting:

We want to reassure parents that there will be extra resources for more one on one attention for their child. This will go towards more help if their kids are struggling, more extension activities if their kids are gifted and talented, more subject choice, more continuing professional development for teachers.

You can read the full local news release here: LINK

Updated: 31 October 2018