From the Newsroom

Who am I voting for?

March 25 is NSW State Election Day and to better help Clarence Valley voters get to know and understand their local candidates, the Clarence Valley Independent will publish profiles of each candidate over the next three issues.

We have also posed a number of questions of candidates and the answers to the first two of those questions appears in this issue.

Candidate profiles and answers to questions will be published progressively and as we receive them between now and the March 22 edition.

Richie Williamson (Nationals) – answers to questions

What do you see as the biggest issue facing NSW and what will you do, if elected, to improve this issue?

The cost of living is the big issue of the election. It affects each and every one of us, from filling up the car, to paying the power bill to buying food. I and the NSW nationals get this and have been providing rebates to many in regional NSW, for example, the $250 regional seniors travel card, which is open for applications now, the new regional apprentice and Uni travel card, these two are only for regional NSW and are under threat by a Labor Government who continue to focus on Western Sydney not regional NSW. The Nationals are providing $7.2 billion in rebates to help with the cost of living and making it easier for young people to get into their first home, giving them the current option of paying stamp duty, or opt for a land tax.

What are the top five issues you are campaigning on in the 2023 NSW election and why? 

  • Improved and continued health investment is a big one for me. The Nationals in Government have delivered the new ambulance station at Iluka including 12 new paramedics, a new ambulance station in Casino, new health one facility at Evans Heads and Coraki and the Nationals are the only Party that is committed to building the $264 million upgrade of the Grafton Base Hospital, NSW Labor are not committing to this project. 
  • The NSW Nationals introduced the first Minister for Regional Health in NSW history, Labor has not committed to this for Regional NSW.
  • Flood Recovery, 12 months on from the flood’s recovery is happening but many people are still displaced, the programs are now getting some speed up and I think over the next few months will really gain some momentum but more needs to be done. $1 billion is on the table for our recovery.
  • Road Repair, The Nationals have now committed a massive $15 million in betterment funding for the upgrading of Yamba Road and the clover leaf to improve flood access, this investment will see Yamba Road stay open longer in a big flood. Delivered over $ million for emergency pothole repairs and have another $1 billion ready for regional NSW to fix local roads and rail.
  • Education, The NSW Nationals in Government will increase our permanent teacher and support staff numbers in NSW by 15,000 by the end of this year. The NSW Nationals in Government will create 120,000 fee free TAFE places in 2023 for areas like childcare and construction to upskill our workforce.   

The NSW Nationals have no privatisation plans in NSW and no new taxes.

Do you support development on floodplains such as at West Yamba and what will you do, if elected, to ensure existing residents aren’t detrimentally impacted by any such developments?

There is no doubt developing and living on a floodplain has its challenges obviously in times of flood, flood mitigation of the 1960’s and 1970’s have served the community well. I am very keen to see the outcomes of the CSIRO study into flood mitigation for many of the Northern Rivers catchments including the Clarence Valley. I acknowledge the study’s final report and outcomes are a little way off yet, but further flood mitigation of the catchment is very important. I would be very supportive of a request from Clarence Valley Council to the State government for funding to carry out a review (independent if required) of the flood modelling for the Lower Clarence particularly. While I acknowledge every flood can be different, ensuring modelling and forecasts are up to date is important. If I was on Council, I would be calling for this funding months ago. No resident should be detrimentally affected by flooding from development, that is why a review of current plans is vital.

Housing affordability is at an all-time low, what will you do to ensure Clarence Valley residents get their fair share of affordable housing opportunities in the valley? 

I fully support the Government measures to improve supply. Since launching the historic $2.8 billion NSW Housing Package, the NSW Liberal and Nationals Government has achieved several milestones on the path to delivering more and better homes.

The Government is on track to deliver more homes by fast-tracking critical infrastructure, appropriate rezoning, supporting first-home buyers with property tax reform and a new shared equity program, investing in key worker housing for regional communities and upgrading social and affordable housing for people in need. This is important for the people of the Richmond and Clarence Valleys. 

In November 2022, the NSW Parliament passed ground-breaking property tax reforms, giving first home buyers purchasing a property worth up to $1.5 million an option to pay an annual property tax instead of upfront stamp duty. This will help many first home buyers get into a home sooner. There is much more to do in this area, and I am committed to get on with the job should I be elected on March 25.

Are you satisfied with the level of Police numbers in the Coffs / Clarence Command area? 

At the start of this term the NSW Government made a commitment to increase our Police Force by an additional 1500 Police Officers. We were very fortunate to have Tony King, a local Grafton officer, as the President of the Police Association of NSW at that time. Tony knew we needed extra police in the bush and Nationals Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis was instrumental in working with Tony as a conduit to Government to help negotiate a deal whereby regional NSW received its largest increase in Police Officers in decades. The two commands in the Clarence electorate – Richmond LAC and Coffs/Clarence LAC, received an additional 46 Police Officers. This is on top of new probationary constables allocated to the two LACs each year.

We have an exceptionally competent cohort of officers in the Clarence and Richmond Valley’s, led by Supt Scott Tanner in the Richmond LAC and Supt Scott Clarke in Coffs/Clarence LAC.

We have more Police on the beat which means more 24/7 policing. Our communities have changed and so has policing. We have Police Stations in many of our regional communities but that doesn’t mean Police are waiting for a crime to occur and a phone call to respond. Police are continually proactively patrolling crime hotspots. If a Police station is unmanned, phone calls are diverted to a central station and the nearest patrol car dispatched. There is always more to do to keep us safe. 

No level of crime is acceptable, we need to always be vigilant, and all crime needs to be reported. To have a safe community we must all do our bit and that includes community, Police, the judiciary, and the legislature. 

The Nationals record in Government demonstrates that we understand our communities and we are focused on their priorities. That includes delivering more Police as well as building new bridges, a divided Pacific Highway, a new gaol and starting on the new Grafton Base Hospital. 

Do you feel the standard of education within the state is acceptable? What will your party / you do to improve the standard of education?

My wife Leonie and I are passionate about education and proud to belong to the party that brought preschool education in NSW from last to first in Australia; cleared the awful backlog of school maintenance that happened under Labor.

We hired a record number of teachers in regional NSW and is investing huge funding in new public-school infrastructure, here in the Clarence, not in Sydney Labor electorates.

Can you see the start of construction of Grafton Hospital happening this year and if so, when?

The rebuild of the Grafton Base Hospital was locked into the NSW Budget thanks to the work of Chris Gulaptis. 

The only way it won’t go ahead is if we get a Labor Government that cancels that promise, just like it cancelled its promise to build the new Grafton Bridge and upgrade the Pacific Highway. 

If you want the new hospital, you need to vote National.

Does the State Government have a role to play in easing the cost of living and what will your party / you do to ease the financial pressure on families and individuals? 

Cost of living pressures are a massive issue for Clarence families and seniors. That is why the Nationals in NSW Government have initiated nearly 100 measures to help locals save. There are hundreds of dollars available to every Clarence child. There are thousands of dollars available for a range of energy savings for eligible households. And the signature policy of the Nationals, which a Labor Government would never support, is the $250 a year fuel Visa debit card for seniors, apprentices and uni students. 


Greg Clancy – Profile

Although I was born in Sydney and lived and worked there for some years, I never really felt at home until I moved to the Clarence Valley. My father, his mother and her mother were all north coast born. Even as a child I had a fascination with nature which was encouraged by my mother, who loved birds. 

I started my working career as a clerk in the NSW public service and after starting a Bachelor of Science Degree, I became a NPWS Ranger and later an independent ecological consultant. I also attained a Master of Science Degree and a PhD, the latter based on my research on Australia’s only stork, the Black-necked Stork. 

My wife Val and I have a satisfying life. I carry out my council duties and also bird research and we travel to study and photograph wildlife. 

I am a father and a grandfather. I sing and play drums at the Country Music Club. I became a politician as I believed there was a need for scientists to become politicians, as the politicians weren’t listening to the scientists. 

I was first elected to Clarence Valley Council in 2016 and re-elected in 2021, now hold the position of Deputy Mayor. I stood as the Greens candidate in the 2019 state election. 

The three most important values to me are honesty, integrity and compassion. An aspiration of mine is to work to turn around the decline in Australia’s unique ecosystems and their flora and fauna

Greg Clancy (Greens) – answers to questions

What do you see as the biggest issue facing NSW and what will you do, if elected, to improve this issue?

The biggest issue facing New South Wales is the impact of natural disasters (bushfire, flooding and severe storms) which have been exacerbated by the effects of climate change.  I will continue to lobby for a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions including no new gas or coal mines and to support appropriate adaptive actions.

What are the top five issues you are campaigning on in the 2023 NSW election and why? 

  • (a) Action on the climate emergency – because it is fundamental to most serious issues facing NSW;
  • (b) Opposition to a toxic waste incinerator in Casino – because it is potentially harmful to local residents and the environment and may reduce the action on the circular economy and will involve long distance transport which will add to greenhouse emissions, and burning plastic is a toxic fossil fuel;
  • (c) Oppose mineral and gas mining in the Clarence and Richmond Valleys – the natural, economic and cultural values of the Clarence and Richmond Catchments would be threatened by mining in the catchments. Open cut mines are proposed with 1km of rivers and holding dams could overflow in high rainfall events or due to collapsed dam walls;
  • (d) Phase out native forest logging and give full protection to the remaining forests of NSW – the benefits of protecting our water supply, clean air and ecological communities far outweighs any limited economic benefit of logging, especially as the taxpayers of NSW are subsidising the timber industry with millions of dollars;
  • (e) Prioritise public education and health services – both services are adversely affected by the current governments public service salary cap creating issues of heavy workloads and staff shortages. The National Party’s promise of a Grafton Base Hospital redevelopment has not been delivered despite many assurances. I would lobby the government to meet this commitment but also to address the staff shortages.

Do you support development on floodplains such as at West Yamba and what will you do, if elected, to ensure existing residents aren’t detrimentally impacted by any such developments?

I do not support development on the floodplain, and I will support the rezoning of lands that haven’t already been developed and call for buybacks of properties that have recently been developed if they are in danger of serious flooding.

Housing affordability is at an all-time low, what will you do to ensure Clarence Valley residents get their fair share of affordable housing opportunities in the valley?

In regional NSW, house rents jumped 10.3% in 2022, three times the wage growth (3.3%).
Real estate agents and big investors hold all the power. We’ll introduce a rent freeze, end no-grounds evictions, ban rent-bidding and strengthen the rights of tenants to enable long term leases.
We’ll require at least 30% affordable housing in new large residential developments and apply a 5% levy on homes left empty over six months.
The building or purchase of affordable homes will be funded by an Extreme Wealth land tax on residential properties with an unimproved land value over $10 million or an improved value over $20 million at 4% of the improved value, with exemptions on primary production lands.
Homes are for the community not short-term holiday letting. We’ll resource Councils to regulate the number of short-term rental dwellings to ensure the availability and affordability of housing for local and long-term residents.

Given the recent water restrictions, what will you do, if elected, to ensure the reliability of a clean Clarence Valley water supply?

I would address the issues in the catchment such as grazing, logging and land clearing and would strongly oppose mining. In addition, I would call on the government to provide grant funding for the proposed filtration plant that is being proposed for South Grafton.

Are you satisfied with the level of Police numbers in the Coffs / Clarence Command area?

 No. There are obviously not enough police to adequately address the needs of the Clarence, especially in small and isolated villages.  Apparently, the Richmond is better staffed.

Do you feel the standard of education within the state is acceptable? What will your party do to improve the standard of education?

The NSW Greens will pay teachers properly by scrapping the public sector wage cap and giving teachers a 15% pay rise plus inflation per the Gallop Report and fund all schools at 100% of the School Resourcing Standard. We have a workforce plan to attract the 12,000 teachers needed over the next decade. We want to return students, teachers, and their union to the centre of all education policy and curriculum decisions.
The Greens NSW believe that every child in every part of the state deserves access to world class public education no matter their background or life circumstance.

Public schools are the heart of every community and teaching and learning must be supported at every level of need from students and families, across teaching and non-teaching positions in schools, and in the resources and infrastructure that supports 21st century education.

The Liberals and Nationals have driven our public education system into the ground through chronic underfunding, and the devaluing of the teaching profession. Some of our public schools are receiving half the funding that private schools are given, and the neo-liberal agenda is harming our most vulnerable young people – students living with disabilities, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth, children from non-English speaking backgrounds, and LGBTIQ+ students.

Read more here in the Greens NSW 2023 Education policy platform

Can you see the start of construction of Grafton Hospital happening this year and if so, when?

No, I can’t. The promise from the NSW government was that the hospital would be started before the next state election, which is this election. It hasn’t. Although $1M has been allocated to the project and further expenditure is contained in the forward estimates there is no real assurance that we will see a new hospital in the short term. Labor hasn’t promised to fund it either so it will not happen in the near future.  

Does the State Government have a role to play in easing the cost of living and what will your party do to ease the financial pressure on families and individuals?

People are struggling to keep their head above water because the cost of everything is going up, and real wages have fallen. While many of us struggle to get by, big banks, coal and gas corporations and property developers continue to make billions.

Low wages are also contributing to cost of living pressures. With inflation increasing and wages flatlining, too many people in New South Wales are coming under financial strain.

The current government’s wages cap for public sector workers has meant that teachers, nurses, paramedics and many other vital public sector workers are actually experiencing real wages cut. Suppressing the wages of public sector workers is also keeping wages low across the economy.

The Greens want to improve the standard of living for everyone across New South Wales.

We are committed to addressing the housing crisis by significant reforms for renters and investing in more public, social and affordable housing.

The Greens plan to lower the cost of living includes:
Make Housing Affordable
Free public transport
Put power assets back in state hands and bring down energy bills
Scrap the Public Sector Wage Cap
Fully fund public education
Taking the Power Back – Affordable energy

Read more about our plan to Lower the Cost of Living here.


Debrah Novak (Community Independent) – Profile

I have been advocating for our Clarence community for 25 years on matters important to them. 

These matters include farmers rights, domestic and family violence, murder cold cases small business and young people.

The role of an independent is to give their community an active voice in parliament while at the same time uniting them. Political parties are there to serve their members. Judge me on what I have already done. 

What do you see as the biggest issue facing NSW and what will you do, if elected, to improve this issue?

Cost Of Living is the biggest issue. If elected I will work with the government to raise incomes and cap or lower prices of essential goods and services.

What are the top five issues you are campaigning on in the 2023 NSW election and why? 

  • Water and food security – The Clarence River Catchment has 35 mining leases which if allowed to operate could negatively impact the output of our farmers and fishers. The knock-on impacts would be catastrophic.
  • Housing (affordability, rental stress, availability) – The Clarence Valley has a chronic shortage of houses for essential public services staff and families. Hospitality also suffers because staff are unable to live here to service the industry.  
  • Natural disasters (emergency response and preparedness) – The Clarence River is in the top 10 regions in Australia to have major flood impacts due to climate change. Based on the catastrophic failure of the State Government to respond to the floods in Lismore in 2022 (inquiry finding) our region needs to learn from this and prepare quickly.
  • Health (hospital, mental health, emergency, doctor and nursing staff numbers) – MP Chris Gulaptis said “the health system is buggered”. We need money here, not just in Western Sydney where the votes are.
  • Education (teacher shortages, teachers’ pay, TAFE funding cuts, HEX fees) we need to build high quality early childhood education and care that is accessible and affordable for all children and empower all teachers through uplifting professionalism, agency, and salaries.

Debrah Novak (Community Independent) – answers to questions

Do you support development on floodplains such as at West Yamba and what will you do, if elected, to ensure existing residents aren’t detrimentally impacted by any such developments? 

As an elected Councillor I am already working within this planning framework. Knowing what we know now before any more developments the state government should undertake a full review of its planning laws on floodplains and put in place buybacks for houses and land.

Housing affordability is at an all-time low, what will you do to ensure Clarence Valley residents get their fair share of affordable housing opportunities in the valley? 

This is a complex issue with many reasons why there is a chronic shortage of affordable housing. I believe Councils should develop a matrix to ensure there is a balance weighted in favour of residents not tourists to ensure liveability. Alongside this a review of the NSW planning portal so that it is not so cumbersome. 

Given the recent water restrictions, what will you do, if elected, to ensure the reliability of a clean Clarence
Valley water supply?

CVC has a resolution on its books to draw up a Masterplan as to the infrastructure needed to ensure our safe drinking water into the future. This includes filtration, pipe replacements and the installation of new pipe lines. I have already supported this Masterplan and will continue to do so.

Are you satisfied with the level of Police numbers in the Coffs / Clarence Command area?

The Maclean CWA have raised police numbers as their number one issue for this election. The police force operate in a system where if one is off sick they are not replaced with a casual. This is what needs to change to ensure police numbers are adequate for each shift. 


Nicki Levi  – Independent candidate for Clarence

Independent candidate for Clarence in the March 25 election, Nicki Levi. Image: Ellyn Grace Photography

Nicki Levi was so concerned that representation for the people of Clarence in the NSW Parliament is ‘virtually non-existent’ that she signed up as an Independent candidate in the March 25 state election.

Nicki of South Arm is a macadamia and native bee farmer, a small business owner, an educator in school and correctional settings and a researcher who has been married to her husband Phil Primrose for 36 years.

She said she has concerns about and policies for the health, education, environmental, criminal justice, business support and other critical systems in Australia, NSW and the Clarence electorate.

A long-time friend of fellow Independent candidate Debrah Novak, Nicki is a first time election candidate.

“I can see that there is another Independent running, who I think is fantastic, and I just want to make sure that there is enough competition for the established parties to hopefully make a difference,” she said.

“I am really concerned about the National Party and the entrenchment of the National Party in this area.

“I just don’t think people realise that they don’t help us, they are beholden to the coal lobby and other lobby groups, and I just don’t think they’re thinking of what we need.”

Nicki said she believes there are definite advantages in being an Independent candidate.

“If you’re Independent you can listen to your constituents much better and act on what they’re asking for than if you have to always go back to your party and consult with them about what you are allowed to say,” she said.

“I think it’s a constraint, being a representative from within a party.

“I would love to represent you, your family and friends in the NSW Parliament.

“I will be preferencing Debrah Novak because I think it’s important that we get an Independent into this area, someone who really listens and really reflects the needs of this area in the parliamentary discussion forum.”

One of her biggest concerns for the future of the Clarence Valley and beyond is Climate Change.

“My concern is what’s happening when we’re mining fossil fuels then selling them to overseas nations and they’re burning them and creating emissions that create a global warming issue that does affect us here in Australia,” Nicki said.

As a long-established educator and academic, experienced with children from K to 12 and with special education, Nicki said she believes the education system can be streamlined which would ultimately benefit teachers, students and parents.

“I see the frustrations from teachers and frustration from parents and I think why doesn’t this government see the effect its policies are having on the way schools are functioning,” she said.

“The government needs to be listening to teachers, parents and children about what works best for them and streamlining processes so that effective delivery of education is enabled in all schools in the Clarence.”

Having educated people in correctional facilities, Nicki said the Clarence Valley should be harnessing the asset that is the Clarence Correctional Centre with its 1700 inmates to help improve the area.

“If the correctional centre worked with the council and the state to get the roads in the area upgraded by having those inmates in traineeships, as is happening with six inmates at Harwood Slipway, there is no reason why we couldn’t get benefits for both the community and the inmates,” she said.

“We need to be connecting into that resource, so that the community is a resource for the people who are residents there and the residents are a resource for the community.” 


Brett Duroux

Indigenous Aboriginal Party candidate for Clarence in the March 25 NSW election Brett Duroux wants to be a voice for the people. Image: contributed

Brett Duroux wants to be a voice for the people of Clarence

Indigenous Aboriginal Party candidate for Clarence at the March 25 NSW election Brett Duroux is sick of the people of the valley being dictated to with city-centric ideas so he wants to be a voice for the people of the region.

Born and bred in in the Clarence Valley and educated in Grafton, Mr Duroux is a proud Gumbaynggirr Bundjalung Yaegl man who previously represented the Indigenous Aboriginal Party at the 2022 federal election.

“I grew up all over Gumbaynggir Bundjalung Yaegl country and learned all about aboriginal culture from a young age,” he said.

“I learned to run the family Aboriginal corporation when I was in year nine and I’m the chairperson of the corporation where I look after and deal with Aboriginal cultural heritage and the land.”

Mr Duroux said he didn’t think twice about running for Clarence as he has had enough of the major political parties.

“I’m just over all the bull…t, just like everyone else,” he said.

“I just want to have a true voice for the Clarence and represent the people with what they want, I haven’t got any other agendas except what is best for the people of the Clarence.

“I am over the way politicians talk to us, the way the people don’t get heard…it seems like they have issues that they want dealt with and everything else gets pushed to the side and they don’t deal with the real problems.”

Mr Duroux said if elected he would campaign to see Aboriginal Australians recognised in the constitution.

“I will fight to protect our land for black, white and brindle people for the future generations to be able to participate and partake in enjoying the land, like we did as young people,” he said.

Like some of the other seven candidates for Clarence, Mr Duroux said he is tired of the people of the Clarence not being heard.

“The city people dictate what’s happening to the world and the people in rural areas don’t get a say,” he said.

“It’s so wrong to be stuck in a rural area when people in the city just point at a map and say let’s build this there, or put a mine there which results in tearing down all the bush.

“The people want to have a say, the people want things done, but what they want seems to be ignored and it’s just ridiculous.”

Other areas of focus for Mr Duroux include the addressing the housing crisis and looking after the mental health of people of the Clarence and importantly our youth.

“I think it’s about time the people get the truth instead of all these hidden agendas of major political parties,” he said.

“I want to be able to be the people’s true voice for the Clarence delivering truth and honesty, that’s what I’m hearing the people want, and that’s what I want.”


Mark Rayner (Legalise Cannabis Party) – answers to questions

I don’t expect to win this election. I nominated to give the good people of Clarence Valley the opportunity to express their support for legalising Cannabis from the privacy of the ballot box.

I am new to the area, and I don’t know a lot about local issues but what I can tell you is that Cannabis is used by Australians from all walks of life, with many gagged from speaking out. 

We are here to be their voice. 

What I can tell you is this ONE policy reaches into many areas of life for all Australians. 

  1. LCNSW Party believe that people should have the freedom to choose Cannabis for recreational or medicinal use including self-grow options.
  2. We believe our children should not be criminalised and denied future opportunities because they have a criminal record for Cannabis “crimes”.
  3. We believe that testing for presence only without impairment is a BAD public policy responsible for ruining lives especially in regional areas.
  4. We desire police resources to be directed at real crime on the streets.
  5. We wish to work toward a cleaner greener future by encouraging agriculture and remediation of land over mining and pollutant industrial pursuits.
  6. We expect jobs to be created from the manufacturing of textiles, building materials, plastics that are all plant based.
  7. We feel that the revenue from state-based tax from public sales of Cannabis products should be directed towards housing, health and rehabilitation services and other important services demands as they arise.
  8. Our members and supporters care about the environment and a cleaner future for our children and generations beyond, clean land, air and water is a must.
  9. We want a safe, standardised and regulated supply for people who choose to use it.
  10. I may not be able to answer your questions on some of the local issues from an LCNSW perspective, but I can assure you that our members and candidates are everyday people like YOU who want fairness and justice in our society and a future for our kids, free from governmental corruption. Community connection and trust are our priority.


Leon Ankersmit (Labor) – Profile

I have lived in regional Australia for most of my life, including 20 years in Toowoomba and the past 15 years in Maclean.

I immigrated with my parents to Australia as a child. Learning English at the age of 11 was a terrific challenge along with cultural differences.

I was a labourer when I left school, but my first proper job was as a technician at Toowoomba’s television station. Later I switched to disability services. I eventually became a manager and started my own business so have been a business manager and CEO for 25 years including being the CEO of a large NGO on the North Coast.

I like to tinker in the shed with the radio on or sometimes sneaking out of the house with Toni my wife for a walk on the beach.

My most important life values are justice and fairness, respect, and a job well done.

I love my diverse workload and busy homelife. Toni and I have been foster carers for 10 years and our home’s a welcome place for kids.

I have been interested in politics since I was 18 but I have not been a candidate before. I want to use my skills as a community builder and collaborator to benefit our district.

The Clarence electorate deserves someone who understands the impacts on the community of being one of the most disadvantaged areas in Australia.

I wish more people would engage with politics so that there is more participation and respectful discussion.

Leon Ankersmit (Labor) – answers to questions

What do you see as the biggest issue facing NSW and what will you do, if elected, to improve this issue?

Housing supply and affordability.

The Liberal National government have completely ignored the housing crisis that has been building for years in NSW. Now that this crisis has reached our region, access to affordable and appropriate housing is out of reach of many households in the Clarence. It means workers cannot find somewhere to live in the places where jobs are. This includes essential workers which are vital for our community.

Unfortunately, it will take some years for the housing supply issue to be alleviated, but NSW Labor has a plan to provide immediate as well as long term solutions.

A NSW Labor government will remove or reduce stamp duty for 95 per cent of first home buyers and abolish the NSW Governments’ forever tax on the family home.

We will also introduce a mandatory requirement for 30 per cent of all homes built on surplus government land to be set aside for social, affordable and universal housing and provide longer term funding certainty for homelessness and housing support organisations and tenancy advocacy services dealing with the fallout from the housing crisis.

For renters, we have committed to creating a Rental Commissioner, protecting tenants from unfair evictions by requiring them to be given lawful reasons for termination their lease, banning the practice of secret rent bidding and implementing a portable bond scheme.

We will also make it easier for renters to apply to have pets in their homes.

NSW Labor will waste no time in addressing this crisis so that more households can enjoy the security of an affordable place to live.

What are the top five issues you are campaigning on in the 2023 NSW election and why?


Housing affordability in the district of Clarence has become a critical issue during the last 12 years of National party government. I will work every day to reduce homelessness, increase the supply of affordable housing, and work with tenants and landlords who make up the private market.

Health Professionals

Our health services are facing a desperate shortage of staff. A NSW Labor Government will remove a cap on wages for workers to enable the recruitment of additional staff, including paramedics. This will also help to ensure safe staffing levels, beginning with Emergency Departments. I will continue to fight for the resources that our health professionals need to do their jobs.


Our public schools in Clarence are also facing a desperate staffing shortage. Labor has solid plans to recruit, retain and value teachers properly so that our schools can once again be fully staffed. The

vast majority of students in Clarence attend public schools and we need to acknowledge the true value of public education.

TAFE and skill shortages

Our TAFE colleges have been decimated under the previous government. This is why the people of Clarence are now waiting years to have homes built and no-one can find a tradesman. I will fight to increase the local opportunities for vocational training and to fully utilise our TAFE campuses.

Working in Partnership with Local and Federal Government

I believe that the State member should work very closely with local and federal government to deliver the infrastructure and services that communities need. I will work with Local Government to deliver on their strategic plans in consultation with the community.

Do you support development on floodplains such as at West Yamba and what will you do, if elected, to ensure existing residents aren’t detrimentally impacted by any such developments?

I do not support further development on floodplains anywhere in the Clarence District. I have already raised the impact of West Yamba floodplain developments with the relevant shadow ministers in the current NSW Labor opposition, and if elected I will work within the NSW Labor Government and with Local Government and regulatory bodies to ensure that existing residents aren’t detrimentally impacted by these developments.

Housing affordability is at an all-time low, what will you do to ensure Clarence Valley residents get their fair share of affordable housing opportunities in the valley?

As the previous CEO and manager of a Community Housing provider in the Clarence, I am keenly aware of both the lack of affordable housing and what is needed to improve housing availability and affordability. This is a crisis that has been building in our region for over 10 years, and the current government has ignored the pleas of community service providers over the years to address this in any meaningful way. We now have waiting lists that stretch out for ten years for people who are eligible for a social dwelling. NSW Labor has a plan to vastly increase the number of dwellings to be built including in regional NSW, and my focus will be to work with government, developers and community housing providers to promote the development of housing projects that are scaled to small household sizes, and which are affordable for average wage earners in our district.

Given the recent water restrictions, what will you do, if elected, to ensure the reliability of a clean Clarence Valley water supply?

I have met with Clarence Valley Council about this exact issue, and I have secured agreement from the Shadow Minister for Water to support CVC in funding a water filtration system for the Clarence Valley water supply. This is a significant piece of infrastructure that has not been supported by the current government, which is why the Clarence, along with other regional towns, still does not have a clean source of drinking water.

Another aspect of ensuring our water supply into the future is to safeguard our river catchment from pollutants including avoidable erosion. I will continue to fight for the protection of our river catchment from activities that threaten the quality of the water, and I will work with landowners, crown lands, and local industries to ensure that we can continue to conduct sustainable farming and forestry activities without compromising the river catchment and our communities, fisheries and tourism industries that rely on a clean river system.

Are you satisfied with the level of Police numbers in the Coffs / Clarence Command area?

I am advised that the police numbers for Coffs/ Clarence are slightly down from where they should be but not significantly. An issue that does need to be looked at is police presence and availability in the lower Clarence especially after hours. We also need to consider whether Yamba especially needs an increased presence during the tourist season when there is a surge in population. I will work constructively with the local area command to seek to resolve any issues with police coverage at key times and in specific locations.

Do you feel the standard of education within the state is acceptable? What will your party / you do to improve the standard of education?

The problem with Education in NSW is entirely the result of 12 years of neglect of public education by the current government. We have seen an exodus of teaching staff from the education sector due to an attack on their wages and conditions over the years that makes the job of providing a quality education to our children extremely difficult. More than 10 years ago, the NSW government was warned that there would be a teacher shortage due to insufficient people taking up education as a career choice. This problem was ignored, and at the same time the government capped wage increases for teacher salaries so that over time their salaries became uncompetitive with other career options. Meanwhile teachers were loaded up with increasingly onerous administrative tasks without receiving time in their workday to attend to these tasks. As a result of these unreasonable conditions placed on teachers, we now have a critical teacher shortage that is affecting the quality of teaching and learning that is happening in our schools. NSW Labor is committed to public education and has a comprehensive plan to support teachers and schools to return to decent wages, full staffing and a reduction in administrative burden.

Can you see the start of construction of Grafton Hospital happening this year and if so, when?

I cannot see the start of construction of the redevelopment of Grafton Hospital happening this year because we are still waiting for the Clinical Services Plan to be released and that must precede any master planning for the new hospital. So, while the current government provided $1 million for the master plan during FY 2022-23, they have only delivered a ‘site plan’ with this money which does not go anywhere near far enough to commence construction. Unfortunately, the community that wants to see a redeveloped Grafton Base Hospital is growing sceptical of the grand election promises that were made over the years. The current government have not even managed to provide safe staffing levels of nurses in our regional hospitals and that is a very serious and more immediate concern. My first priority regarding our health services in Clarence will be to ensure that staffing levels are at a safe ratio and that equipment that has been committed to our hospitals is delivered. As the health and population needs of our region change, I will advocate strongly and sensibly for the right infrastructure and services to be available for residents. I will avoid making grand promises, instead focusing on a proven and methodical approach to determine what is needed for the future, when it will be needed, and how we will pay for it and deliver it.

Does the State Government have a role to play in easing the cost of living and what will your party / you do to ease the financial pressure on families and individuals?

The main drivers of cost-of-living pressure are housing and energy costs. These have risen enormously under the current government which has completely neglected housing affordability and which has continued to privatise energy assets to the detriment of the people of NSW who are now captive to market forces for energy prices. NSW Labor has sensible and comprehensive plans in place to bring down housing costs including fairer laws for tenants, stamp duty relief for first home buyers, and a significant investment in a new Energy Security Corporation. The current government only has short-term answers and does not have the foresight to address the cost of living crisis with real long-term solutions.