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Steve Cansdell is flanked by Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party MLC Robert Brown. Image: Renae Barnes

Cansdell shoots from the hip

Geoff Helisma |

Former member for Clarence Steve Cansdell has sheathed the sword upon which he fell, seemingly ending his political career in September 2011, and come out shooting from the hip with a challenge to Nationals leader and Deputy Premier John Barilaro.

“John Barilaro is coming up to speak with the Wave 5 highway subbies again in July; if he doesn’t bring the money owed to them, then this is going to be an issue all the way to the election,” Mr Cansdell said.
“If he wants to nip that in the bud, then he’s got to come up and sort these people out.
“If he does, hello, I’m happy, job done.”

Mr Cansdell launched his campaign for the NSW election (due in March 2019) at the Grafton Hotel on Tuesday June 12, also announcing that he had joined the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party.

Mr Cansdell – who held the seat for the Nationals from 2003 until September 2011, when he resigned after admitting he had falsified a statuary declaration in September 2005 to avoid losing his driver’s licence – joined the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party “a few weeks ago”, following discussions with the party “a couple of months ago”.
He said he resigned his Nationals membership “after the banning of the greyhounds”, because he was “disappointed with their hypocrisy”.
“In opposition, we [the Nationals] opposed Labor selling the power poles and wires, the Liberals wanted to, [but] we worked to make sure it didn’t go ahead,” he said.
“But what happened? We got in and sold the stuff, that’s hypocrisy right there.”
On joining a party with the word shooters in it, he said he had been told that the party “did not support any US style [gun ownership] legalisation”.
He said the party had evolved from a “one issue party” that now “stands for what the [former] country party stood for: regional and rural communities, and it’s not beholden to Labor or the Liberal Coalition”.
He said he supports the party’s firearms policy “to a point”.
“There are always things we can talk about behind closed doors,” he said.
He believes that the party can increase its NSW Legislative Council and Assembly numbers from two and one, to three and three, respectively, at the 2019 election.
When asked how he would be an effective member sitting on the cross bench in the Legislative Assembly, Mr Cansdell said: “The two in the upper house have bargaining power now; the upper house is what counts, that’s where our influence is.”
If elected to the Legislative Assembly, Mr Cansdell says his efforts will be focused on the Clarence electorate.
“I’ll be voting for my electorate,” he said, “I won’t have to tow the major party lines; that’s what I really like about it – I could vote either way, depending on the issue.”

Mr Cansdell dispelled any perceptions that he was bankrupt, despite stating in past media stories that he was nearing bankruptcy.

On the question: Why should voters trust you, given that you resigned in September 2011 as a result of your falsifying a statuary declaration in September 2005 to avoid losing your driver’s licence?
“That’s a good question,” He said. “When I signed the declaration I thought it was nothing more than a speeding fine – everyone was doing it.
“I went and saw Andrew Stoner, my boss … regarding being [reported] to ICAC [Independent Commission Against Corruption].
“He said, ‘You have to resign from your position, parliamentary secretary of police, as of close of business today.’
“I was gobsmacked, I froze, and said, ‘Is it that serious?’ He said, ‘It is.’
“I said, ‘Andrew, if it’s that serious I consider my political career is over now.’
“I give him credit, he tried to talk me out of it – I got calls from Labor, too: ‘Cansdell, pull your resignation, we can work through this.’
“I said no, if it’s that serious I’m retiring. I’ve paid a huge penalty – financial and loss of a job I loved when I thought I was making an impact on people’s lives.
“I did what was right at the time, I stuffed up, and went straight to the police station and … whatever happens, happens.”

Mr Cansdell’s predicament was the subject of much media scrutiny, however, in October 2012 a statement was released: “NSW Police Force will not instigate criminal proceedings,” it said, also stating that the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions had said it was ”not satisfied there are reasonable prospects for conviction for a Commonwealth offence.”

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