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Andrew Woodward and Mark Butler, ALP National President and Shadow Minister for Climate Change


I am fighting for a better deal on employment, environment, equality and integrity in government. These are the key issues in Cowper.

We need more than just infrastructure here. We also need a vision, services and assistance for the people of Port, Coffs, Kempsey and the mid-north coast. Labor is ready.

We have big problems to fix here. We can but we need to move forward and not back. More of the same from the National Party and others won’t change a thing. Labor is committed to change.

People tell me over and over they want real change; a totally fresh approach, and a strong voice in Canberra that will be heard. We’re only going to change Cowper if we actually change direction in Cowper. You will only get real change with Labor.

People like Labor’s positive policies, people and priorities, nationally and locally. I have a straightforward message – don’t muck around, don’t waste your vote, don’t risk the Nationals winning again – Vote #1 Labor as we’ll all be better off with a Labor voice inside a Labor Government.

An Action Agenda for Cowper

Understanding the diversity is why I think an Action Agenda for Cowper will attract voters to us. First, we need to ensure that we get the right government services in Cowper and protect them. With the basic services right, we can start to address inequality – between city and country, between women and men, for older and younger and help those that need a hand. We also need to get back to that old phrase – Let’s Advance Australia. We need thinking that sets us up for the future, like harnessing renewable energy, rather than looking in the rear-vision mirror as the Nationals do now. Finally, we need to take action on climate change and make sure that we have a home, region, country and planet that is liveable for not just us but future generations.

It is all about Advancing Australia by caring for country and putting people first.

My priorities are:

    • Real action on climate change: Climate change is the biggest medium to long-term issue facing this country, indeed the world. It will change economic, social and environmental aspects of life like no other issue. In acting on climate change, we must accelerate the clean energy revolution, drive sustainable development, conserve our precious environment and transition impacted communities.  Labor is the only party that can and will do this in an orderly manner.
    • Better services: Accessible and well resourced public transport, education, health, internet, broadcasting, social services and community infrastructure are a right and not a privilege. Public services are a foundation of what gives Australia a competitive advantage and makes us great. They must be protected and enhanced and in tune with the times – in a partnership between government, business, unions and civil society as a whole.
    • Protecting rights: We have fought hard for our rights and we must preserve them. For example, we must protect universal health – Medicare as introduced by the Hawke Labor Government; we must workers rights, like Sunday penalty rates and, we must make sure that pensioners are looked after.  We also need to introduce new rights, like ten days paid domestic violence leave.
    • Let’s Advance Australia: Australia must be modern and far-sighted; driven by the desire to deliver equality. In so doing, it must be cohesive, confident, cooperative, compassionate and connected. Australia under Malcolm Turnbull is handcuffed to the policies, thinking, traditions and symbols of the past. Government by fear, intimidation and exclusion for the few has no place in a modern country. 
    • Driving towards equality in regions: Regions face specific issues when it comes to equality. Education, employment, health, community and social services enjoyed by those in our major cities simply don’t exist at the same levels in our regions. Addressing the imbalance must be a first order issue.



The electorate has excellent potential with two major cities in Coffs Harbour and Port Macquarie bookending some of the best nature, tourism attractions, small businesses, agricultural lands, retirement living and affordable housing for the middle and working class in the country. While the north coast has promise, its future is not bright as it has been let down by the National Party for a century. Cowper has some of the highest levels of disadvantage in Australia and the highest percentage of people in the country below the poverty line. For this, the Nationals should be condemned and not rewarded by the electorate. Rather than just surviving, Cowper should be thriving and this will be a key focus of my work as candidate and possible parliamentarian.

The key to campaigning is to understand the diversity in the electorate. Cowper is incredibly diverse – modern urban centres, pristine wilderness, sparkling coasts and diverse primary industry. We have retirees, young families, tree and sea changers, farmers, those who love the beach culture, office workers and many living in environmental enclaves, like me in Bellingen. We make our money through health, retail, construction, tourism, education, services, primary industry or live off our pensions or savings. In many parts, we are your typical Australia. In other parts, there are the well off. In many parts, there is great disadvantage and many who need a hand.


I say I have experience, energy and expertise. What gives me the ‘energy’ I cite? First, there’s the physical energy for a sustained and professional campaign. I have plenty of that – as I have done it before and know what it takes.

Then there’s the energy that drives motivation. It comes from your values and being 100 per cent Labor. I am driven by equality and fairness. I get energy from seeing all people do well – irrespective of your sex, education, race, age, faith, background, sexual orientation, opinion, politics, location, status or physical and mental abilities. I hate seeing one person succeed at the expense of another. I want to see all people do well.

My second key motivator concerns nature or ‘the environment’. I take a very straight forward view – the earth has been here for 4.5 billion years, and we’re all here for less than 100 years (well, most of us anyway). Thus we’re a temporary visitor, and as such we have a responsibility to look after the place and leave it in better shape than we found it. We should protect and enjoy nature and not irreparably exploit and degrade it (or indeed kill it as ‘we’re’ doing with the 8,000 year-old Great Barrier Reef). This is why I am active in LEAN – the Labor Environment Action Network.

Finally, I get energy from the First Peoples of Australia – the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. We can learn much from them. Quite simply, as I heard an Aboriginal elder say once – “If you look after country – country will look after you”. This, in language only us true Laborites will understand, is my ‘light on the hill’.

Candidate nomination statement