Labor and Nationals ready for northern battle
LABOR'S infantry has been deployed to the Northern Rivers in a battle to win the National Party heartland.
Opposition leader Luke Foley, an increasingly familiar visitor, was back yesterday to start a two-day campaign selling his no-CSG platform.
The tour was chiefly about spruiking the policy Labor believes will turn the tide on the Nationals' stronghold.
"The Nationals have taken the North Coast for granted. I think it's long time the National Party are held to account for their neglect," Mr Foley said.
Labor officials say the party stands to win Tweed, Ballina and Lismore, going by 2013 federal election voting patterns, and have posted campaigners from the party's triumphant Queensland and Victorian elections to canvass the electorates.
Premier Mike Baird has been less visible. Yesterday, his office would not say when Northern Rivers voters could expect to see him in person.
The approaching retirement of Nationals stalwart and Ballina MP Don Page, who has held the seat since its boundaries were drawn in 1988, spells a possible Labor opportunity that Mr Baird is keen to shut down.
"We have campaigned up in Ballina, we have a great candidate Kris Beavis," he said.
"Westpac rescue helicopter worker, surf lifesaver, passionate about the community and the environment - a perfect candidate who will represent them well if given the opportunity.
"I expect that he will put up a very good fight there.
"Certainly all of us across every seat are taking no votes for granted. This is too important."
Labor will bring another political powerhouse to the region today, with new Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk joining Mr Foley on the trail.
"Ms Palaszczuk is an inspirational Labor figure who fought and defeated the Liberals' and Nationals' privatisation agenda in Queensland," Mr Foley said.
Mr Foley will again plug his promise to permanently ban CSG activity from the entire Northern Rivers region including Ballina, Clarence Valley, Byron and Kyogle shires, Lismore City, Tweed Shire and Richmond Valley.
Another announcement is expected, but Mr Foley is not spoiling the surprise.
His team of hopefuls will be on hand again - Ballina's Paul Spooner, Ron Goodman from Tweed and Lismore candidate Isaac Smith.
Meanwhile, the Premier believes the Coalition's $20 billion decade-long infrastructure plan will keep voters loyal.
"Labor has no credibility on the issue of coal seam gas," he said.
"The NSW Nationals have outstanding candidates in our north seats - Thomas George in Lismore, Kris Beavis in Ballina, Geoff Provest in Tweed and Chris Gulaptis in Clarence.
"We have a plan to turbo-charge NSW and take this state forward."