Cansdell a ?ratbag?, says MLC

By PETER ELLEM

LABOR'S Duty MLC for Clarence, Greg Donnelly, claims sitting Nationals MP Steve Cansdell is 'a loudmouth ratbag' who cannot get through the front door to access ministers or their senior bureaucrats.

Mr Donnelly yesterday launched the attack during an interview with The Examiner on Tuesday's NSW Budget. The MLC said he had heard that Mr Cansdell was on Radio 2GF bagging the Budget with his typical megaphone diplomacy.

''He (Mr Cansdell), through the paper, bangs the drum on law and order, but he's just a loudmouth and held in very poor regard by ministers and senior bureaucrats.

''His problem is he can't articulate the needs of the people, nor can he communicate those priorities to Government. It means he is failing his electorate and they are missing out. That would all change if Clarence had a Labor representative.''

Mr Cansdell repeated his radio comment that if Mr Donnelly thought the Budget was a win for the Clarence, he was obviously off with the pixies.

"I've only met Greg Donnelly once (in Grafton), but he strikes me as a political hack, thrown into Parliament by the unions, totally out of his depth and totally ineffectual,'' Mr Cansdell said.

''It is the height of hypocrisy for someone like him, in the pocket of the Government, to blame me for his complete lack of influence on Government decision making. The guy is an embarrasment.''

When pressed about his personal dealings with Mr Cansdell, Mr Donnelly variously described him as very arrogant, a real bully boy and the twin brother of Nationals Mem- ber for Coffs Harbour Andrew Fraser.

''There are decent National Party MPs and independents we are happy to deal with across the State, but what you have in Clarence and Coffs are ratbags.''

Mr Cansdell said this was nonsense because he had had productive meetings with ministers in recent months on preschool and education issues.

Clarence Valley councillor and former Labor candidate for Clarence, Terry Flanagan, said the seat of Clarence had totally missed out from what was, by and large, a big-spending Budget.

''That's an absolute reflection on the calibre of our representation in Macquarie Street,'' Cr Flanagan said.

''Steve Cansdell spends most of his waking hours assailing and abusing ministers instead of negotiating with them.

"It's hardly a tactic that's going to make anyone in Government receptive to what our needs are.''

Mr Cansdell said: ''Terry needs grief counselling; he still hasn't got over two election losses on the trot ? one to Ian Causley and then one to me.

''He's embittered towards the electorate and the National Party. Terry and Greg should look at their own performance; they are a waste of good office space and tax- payers' money.



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