Nationals candidate for Clarence Steve Cansdell.
Nationals candidate for Clarence Steve Cansdell.

Williamson backs independent MPs

INDEPENDENT candidate for Clarence Richie Williamson has rejected claims by incumbent member Steve Cansdell that independents achieve minimal benefits for their electorates.

In a media release issued on Friday, Mr Cansdell said Port Macquarie-based “messiah” independent Rob Oakeshott had achieved little for his electorate.

“I am sick and tired of this rubbish that independent representatives achieve more than party members,” he said.

“Labor won’t deliver for regional NSW. Independents can’t deliver for regional NSW.”

Mr Cansdell said the Nationals were the only representatives that delivered results for regional and rural NSW.

“I was at a candidates’ forum recently in Casino and the independent was asked if he had a policy on a certain issue and he said ‘No, I don’t have policies. I’m an independent, I have views’,” Mr Cansdell said.

“Everyone is entitled to an opinion but the real work is in developing polices, which requires teamwork and ongoing consultation with the community, with ministers and their advisers, and most importantly, with the bloke who holds the chequebook.

“You can’t do all that sitting in isolation on the backbenches of the bear pit.

"You have to be inside the tent, sitting at the ringmaster’s table.”

Mr Williamson scoffed at suggestions by his Nationals opponent that independents were ineffective, saying independents had achieved great results across the nation.

He said the proof was in the pudding that you don’t need to be in government to achieve results for your electorate.

“Andrew Stoner in opposition has achieved upgrades to the Pacific Highway in his electorate and he has also achieved a brand-spanking-new hospital,” he said.

“Thomas George in opposition has a brand-new police station.”

Mr Williamson questioned what Mr Cansdell had delivered during his time as MP.

“We have nothing in the Clarence that the incumbent member can hang his hat on to say he’s achieved,” he said.

“Our highway remains unfunded, our Grafton Bridge remains unfunded, the hospitals remain in a diabolical situation and our police numbers are so low we are seeing police stations close their doors.

“It’s now time the Clarence had a local member who is prepared to put the local issues before the party’s views.”

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