Controversial MP reveals why he changed parties
FORMER Clarence MP Steve Cansdell's return to public life began with an apology.
"Firstly I want to nip things in the bud," Mr Cansdell began when he spoke yesterday at the Grafton Hotel to reveal why he would stand for the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party at the 2019 NSW Election.
"Seven years ago I stuffed up through ignorance, but ignorance is not an excuse," he said.
"I had to resign. It was the hardest thing I've ever done in my life, to resign from parliament, and the people I served and expected things from me, to let them down.
"To them I apologise."
Mr Cansdell resigned from Parliament in September 2011 after he revealed he had illegally signed a statutory declaration six years earlier to avoid a speeding ticket and loss of his driver's licence.
But Mr Cansdell, who held the seat of Clarence for the Nationals from 2003 to 2011, was not saying sorry to his former party for leaving it in 2016 in protest against its support for the government's attacks on the greyhound industry. He used this issue to explain his defection to the SFF this year.
"When the Nationals joined with the Liberals to close down the greyhound industry the local member (Nationals MP Chris Gulaptis), to give him credit, crossed the floor," Mr Cansdell said.
"He had to be pushed because when asked at a greyhound meeting he said he would not.
"But he did cross the floor and I give him credit there," Mr Cansdell said.
"But then that was it, he let it go."
Mr Cansdell said the government lost the issue on the floor of parliament but had set about destroying the industry by stealth.
"It has put in an integrity commission to oversee the reforming of the greyhound industry. It is there for nothing more than to close it down," he said.
"Death by 1000 cuts. I think every person in the greyhound industry realises that."
Mr Cansdell said one main reason for deciding to run was the way the government had treated 23 local Pacific Highway sub-contractors asking for help after one of the head contractors went broke owing its sub-contractors $7.3million.
"I said ... a couple of weeks ago the government had a moral obligation to put a rescue package together for these contractors," he said.
"After reading the Collins Report I can tell you they had more than a moral obligation."
Mr Cansdell said the Collins Report findings recommended the Security of Payment Act be amended to include a construction trust funded by retention funds.
"If that had been installed then, five and a half years ago, these sub-contractors would not be here today worrying about whether they can pay their house off," he said.
Mr Cansdell said there were many other issues he planned to tackle over the nine months leading up to the election.
He said the government was flush with cash after it sold off electricity poles and wires, despite opposing the sale in opposition.
He said he would pursue a Right to Farm Bill, which had been dropped from the agenda since the LNP came to power.
Youth and apprenticeships were other areas he said needed government intervention to ensure young people had a future with real job prospects.
The Shooters Fishers and Farmers party MLC Robert Brown said the party had recruited Mr Cansdell about two months ago.
"Somebody who knows him knew he was thinking of having another crack," Mr Brown said.
"So they put him in touch with us.
"We met with him in Sydney two months ago then we danced around it a bit because I don't think he'd made up his mind yet and we hadn't made up our mind.
"As we got to know him we decided if we're going to have a go in the Clarence, this is the sort of bloke we'd campaign for and we think he has a shot."