In the lead-up to today’s New South Wales State Election, The Times sent off a list of questions to all five candidates for the Seat of Goulburn and printed the results in our 22nd March edition.

The positioning of the ballot for the candidates for Goulburn was drawn earlier this month, with Labor’s Michael Pilbrow winning the top spot.

The full ballot order for Saturday’s State Election is as follows:

1 – Labor: Michael Pilbrow

2 – Sustainable Australia Party: Margaret Logan

3 – Liberal: Wendy Tuckerman

4 – Shooters, Fishers and Farmers: Andrew Wood

5 – Australian Greens:  John Gregory Olsen

The Times sent the following questions to all five candidates last week, with a deadline to return the answers by 5pm last Friday, 17 March. We did not receive responses from the sitting member Liberal member, the Greens or Sustainable Australia Party.

What is the biggest ticket item the people of the Yass Valley need to improve the liveability of the area?

What is your pledge to the people of the Yass Valley, why should they vote for you?

What can you do to improve ratios in the Yass Hospital between nurses and patients?

What is your position on forced mergers of local Councils? Do you think a community plebiscite should be held to demerge failed Council mergers? What is stopping Yass being merged into a larger area in the future?

Can you work within a hung parliament to form Government if required.

Which of the major two parties has the best chance of forming government after March 25.

With promises broken in the past by various politicians, how can you ensure that your promises and pledges will be kept.

How important is Yass Valley to regional NSW and how can you help it grow and attract the services it is lacking?

Do you support the privatisation of Sydney Water. If so, why? If not, why not?

Labor – Michael Pilbrow:

Yass local and Labor’s Candidate for the seat of Goulburn – Michael Pilbrow

What is the biggest ticket item the people of the Yass Valley need to improve the liveability of the area?

As I travel around the Yass Valley people tell me that they are sick of dealing with substandard water quality, strained health services and poor roads. Labor has committed to addressing the water quality issues by investing $13,500,000 to replace ageing pipes and fastrack a new water treatment plant in co-operating with Council. We’ll ensure minimum safe staffing levels at Yass District Hospital and we’ll also plan ahead for the long-term health needs of this community as it grows by undertaking a feasibility study for a new Yass Hospital. We will establish a new emergency road repair fund for the regions to get on top of the roads maintenance backlog.

What is your pledge to the people of the Yass Valley, why should they vote for you?

As someone who has come from the community, with a background in local business and voluntary organisations, I’m running to be your local voice. I’ve never held a paid political role before and I’m not running to climb the political ladder. As I doorknock across our electorate, I keep hearing how surprised people are to have a political candidate turning up and asking them for their views on the issues. People deserve to hear from their local Member, and know that if they need something, they are accessible.

If elected on March 25th, my commitment to you is that I will keep turning up, listening to the community, and responding to the needs of the Yass Valley. This is what I’ve done in this campaign and I have fought for the Labor commitments on water, health, Bowning village and support for the Yass Historical Society – and I will keep advocating for this community if I am elected as your MP. I’ll continue door-knocking, I’ll hold regular street stalls and mobile offices; you won’t be waiting four years to hear from me again, because the job of a local politician is to be out in the community every day, not just at election time.

What can you do to improve ratios in the Yass Hospital between nurses and patients?

NSW Labor has a comprehensive policy to ensure enforceable minimum safe staffing levels across every public hospital, including Yass. We’ll start with Emergency Departments, ensuring 1 nurse to every 3 patients in emergency and 1 nurse to 4 patients on the floor. In order to ensure we are attracting and retaining our best and brightest in the nursing profession, we need to establish a pathway to more competitive pay agreements. For too long, the Liberals have enforced an arbitrary “wages cap” on public sector workers, including nurses. This has prevented nurses from negotiating for fair wages and has been a significant strain on productivity. On top of this, during the middle of the pandemic, the NSW Liberals froze nurses’ wages while they were on the frontlines of our emergency response to COVID-19. That’s why NSW Labor will abolish the wages cap, and allow nurses to negotiate for better pay and conditions. This is essential to attracting more people to the profession.

What is your position on forced mergers of local Councils? Do you think a community plebiscite should be held to demerge failed Council mergers? What is stopping Yass from being merged into a larger area in the future?

NSW Labor does not favour forced Council mergers, especially when there is considerable community opposition. I am pleased that Yass Valley Council was not affected by the mergers a few years ago, some of our neighbouring councils were merged and this remains a sore point in some areas. While ultimately, we need stability in Local Government and don’t want to be merging and demerging Councils every few years, in instances where mergers have been a failure we need to keep all options on the table to remedy the situation.

Can you work within a hung parliament to form a Government if required?

I am running to be part of a Minns Labor Government. NSW Labor is fighting this election to form a majority Government for New South Wales, and seats like Goulburn will be critical to providing a path to victory so we can secure the Fresh Start we need. No matter the outcome in the rest of the State, if elected I will work tirelessly to deliver for our community, and I will work within my party and across the political spectrum to get results.

Which of the major two parties has the best chance of forming government after March 25?

NSW Labor has the best shot of forming Government. Unlike the Liberals, we don’t operate in perpetual Coalition, and we’re not reliant on a second force to give us a shot at governing in the same way they are with the Nationals. For the last 12 years, the Liberals have neglected communities across our state with a lack of investment in key public services including health, education, and roads. This leaves them vulnerable at the ballot box and with an incredibly difficult path to Government.

However, we have are no false impressions about the challenge that lies before us – Labor has to win an additional nine seats to form Government, including Goulburn. Our Fresh Start plan gives us the opportunity to set NSW on the right path, but we can only do that with your support.

With promises broken in the past by various politicians, how can you ensure that your promises and pledges will be kept?

I’ve heard from so many people the scepticism they have towards political promises, and given what we’ve seen in the past, I don’t blame them one bit.

Throughout this campaign my mantra has been simple: listen, then respond. I’ve heard loud and clear that people are over politicians who promise the world and then don’t deliver. That’s why the commitments NSW Labor has made have been have gone through a rigorous review process to ensure they are realistic and achievable.

We’re not promising the world, we’re promising what we know we can deliver. If elected, we want to be held to account for the commitments we are making to the community.

How important is Yass Valley to regional NSW and how can you help it grow and attract the services it is lacking?

Yass Valley is such an attractive place to live and work that many people from other areas want to move here. This is a wonderful thing and it positions Yass Valley to grow into a major centre in regional NSW – we have seen this over the past few years as more and more people are attracted to the friendly community, beautiful countryside and space that we have. As a growing community with a rich agricultural heritage, Yass Valley’s proximity to Canberra, Sydney, western NSW and Victoria positions our region for growth as an agricultural powerhouse and a base for other industries and sectors. I will be a strong ambassador for families and businesses to consider Yass as a location from which they can live and work with no regrets. This growth will be helped greatly by Labor’s commitment to address the water issues facing Yass, Bowning, Binalong and Murrumbateman. The growth will also need to be accompanied by infrastructure and services – and our feasibility study into a new Yass hospital will be critical to setting up the Yass Valley for the long-term growth that is coming. If I am elected as your new MP, I will advocate strongly for infrastructure and service planning to be based on realistic population growth and not understated estimates that do not do justice to our future growth and needs.

Do you support the privatisation of Sydney Water? If so, why? If not, why not?

Categorically, no.

The water supply of any area should always be in public hands. Despite what the Liberals say, their track-record on Sydney Water is clear.

In Government, they prepared a secret plan to privatise all or part of Sydney Water.

At a candidate’s forum just a few weeks ago, when asked “Do you support the privatisation of Sydney Water or other Government assets?” my Liberal opponent held up a sign saying “Yes”. All other Goulburn-electorate candidates present, including myself said “No”.

The NSW Liberals have a track record of promising not to sell assets before an election, and then putting them up for sale as soon as they are returned to power. We have seen this program too many times before, and we know how it ends.

Since 2011, the O’Farrell/Baird/Berejiklian/Perrottet Government has sold more than $90 billion of your assets. As a consequence, the cost-of-living has skyrocketed and the State has lost numerous sources of ongoing revenue. A recent study showed the privatisation of Sydney Water could see a 59% increase in household water bills. NSW simply cannot afford another four years of the Liberals and their privatisation obsession.

 

Shooters, Fishers and Farmers: Andrew Wood

Shooters Fishers & Farmers candidate for the seat of Goulburn – Andy Wood

What is the biggest ticket item the people of the Yass Valley need to improve the liveability of the area?

It’s clear that Stage 2 and Stage 3 of the Water Treatment plant is the most critical project. Yass Valley Council should not need to create a business case. It needs to move forward immediately.

What is your pledge to the people of the Yass Valley, why should they vote for you?

Firstly, the Water Treatment Plant will be pushed ahead. From there I will immediately fight to remedy the poor education policies to return teachers to local schools. I’ll subsidise nurses who have been out of the industry to get up to date and back into hospitals and implement strategies for doctors to settle in our towns, not just hire locums. I’ll lobby to get proper rail services to Yass and, most importantly, get proper funding for Council and Transport NSW to repair and upgrade our roads.

What can you do to improve ratios in the Yass Hospital between nurses and patients?

To begin remove the $17,000 fee for nurses who have been out of the industry for a few years to get their qualifications up to date and return to the industry. Also reintroduce enrolled nurse courses in country TAFEs and properly fund rural TAFE colleges, not just hand out travel passes.

What is your position on forced mergers of local Councils? Do you think a community plebiscite should be held to demerge failed Council mergers? What is stopping Yass from being merged into a larger area in the future?

The Shooters, Fishers & Farmers Party has always stood against forced amalgamations and communities should have the right to de-amalgamate if they wish.

Can you work within a hung parliament to form Government if required?

Definitely.

Which of the major two parties has the best chance of forming government after March 25?

Whichever gets the most votes on the day.

With promises broken in the past by various politicians, how can you ensure that your promises and pledges will be kept?

Because the Shooters, Fishers & Farmers Party haven’t broken promises. They’ve stood by and fought for their communities. Unlike Labor, Liberal and the Greens they don’t make outlandish just to get votes and then renege on them. We don’t pork barrel. We work in the real world.

How important is Yass Valley to regional NSW and how can you help it grow and attract the services it is lacking?

Yass Valley, like the rest of the Southern Tablelands, is a rapidly growing region as expats from Sydney and Canberra settle in to bring up families or retire in a slower-paced, rural lifestyle. As the population in the region grows, we need better funding for health, education, infrastructure and services. Only SFF will fight for country communities as we’re biased for the bush.

Do you support the privatisation of Sydney Water? If so, why? If not, why not?

No, under no circumstances. Any privatisation that raises costs for voters is absolutely bad. We’ve already suffered enough from privatisation.

Tim Warren