18 March 2023

Candidates make their pitch for representing Goulburn

| John Thistleton
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Candidates for Goulburn

Labor candidate Michael Pilbrow said Labor was focused on the future, Liberal Member for Goulburn Wendy Tuckerman (right) said history and heritage were important, while Chamber of Commerce president and moderator Darrell Weekes kept each candidate to the time schedule. Photo: John Thistleton.

Another four years of sound economic management and building new infrastructure for Goulburn such as the river walkways and aquatic centre, or a fresh start with more ideas, energy, nurses and paramedics.

Those were among the choices Liberal Member for Goulburn Wendy Tuckerman and Labor candidate Michael Pilbrow offered on Wednesday night (15 March) for voters in the upcoming NSW election. The Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party candidate Andy Wood, who attracted some of the major parties’ support for his campaign at the 2019 election, dismissed their promises this time around too.

The Greens’ Gregory Olsen reckons regional health services are the number one issue for the poll and backs returning assets such as power companies to public ownership for better equity and affordability.

Pledges came at the Goulburn Chamber of Commerce’s Meet the Candidates 2023 State Election Goulburn and Marulan. The seat covers Goulburn Mulwaree, Yass Valley and Upper Lachlan council areas, and southwestern parts of the Wingecarribee Shire. A boundary redistribution excised the Hilltops council area from Goulburn, including Ms Tuckerman’s hometown of Boorowa and reduced the Liberal member’s margin to 3.1 per cent.

READ ALSO: New lease of life or a ‘freaking disaster? Wakefield Park racetrack sold

Mr Wood, a father of eight and Goulburn Mulwaree councillor said Labor’s pledge to lift the cap on wages for nurses and police didn’t hold water because the SFF Party’s bill last June had sought to do just that, and the Labor and Liberal parties didn’t support it.

Mr Olsen said that after the pandemic frontline health workers were burning out and resigning from understaffed hospitals. “The Liberal/Nationals have built new hospitals without funding the staff needed to fill them,” he said. This led to record emergency wait times and dangerous patient outcomes.

The Greens had initiated a bill to parliament to establish nurse-to-patient ratios and if given the balance of power, the party would provide free health care when and where it was needed.

Liberal Member for Goulburn Wendy Tuckerman

Liberal Member for Goulburn Wendy Tuckerman said the NSW Government would not privatise Sydney Water. Shooters, Fishers and Farmers candidate Andy Wood said his party wanted to see mistakes corrected; the single biggest mistake in the electorate could be corrected by banning the proposed Veolia incinerator at Tarago. Photo: John Thistleton.

Mrs Tuckerman said her party had turned around the state’s finances and delivered record surpluses and low debt. One of her proudest moments came at the recent 160th birthday celebrations of the Goulburn Mulwaree Council. “I saw each and every captain of our local schools get up and talk about the things that were important to them and they mentioned everything that we have delivered in regards to aquatic centre, footpaths, the Performing Arts Centre. They were really proud.”

A small businessman from Yass, Mr Pilbrow rejected the Government as sound economic managers after they had gone overseas to have new trains manufactured, which were $1 billion over budget and four years late. Roads were in a terrible state and services were languishing.

He said his door-knocking in Goulburn and Marulan revealed the Government had hit a wall, evident in overworked, under-resourced nurses and a teacher shortage crisis. “We have a plan to recruit more nurses, introduce minimum safe staffing levels in our hospitals and pay health workers what they’re worth,” he said.

READ ALSO Kings Highway named third worst road in NSW: NRMA

Mr Pilbrow said Wakefield Park Raceway’s closure had disrupted support for people with disabilities and the testing of electric cars, as the Labor candidate often heard while door-knocking in 2022 and this year.

But his assertion of listening to stakeholders including Benalla Auto Racing Club before putting forward a plan was challenged by Mrs Tuckerman.

“I might just check you up on some of those probably little porkies regarding talking to the owners because that is certainly not their statement that they have made,” she said, relying on a statement from Benalla Auto Club’s Stephen Whyte. Mr Pilbrow recounted the meetings and records of them, offering to show them to anyone who cared.

Mrs Tuckerman said after the Land and Environment Court decision which led to Wakefield Park’s closure was handed down, she talked to the owners. Benalla Auto Club had operated for more than a decade illegally, that was the issue. It was important now that the new owner was able to meet the noise issues emanating from Wakefield Park.

Goulburn candidates

NSW Greens candidate Gregory Olsen (left) was succinct in his responses, opposed privatisation and championed public ownership of assets such as power stations. Photo: John Thistleton.

Mr Wood said he had spoken to new owner Steve Shelly who also owns the Pheasant Wood Circuit at Marulan about a sustainable future for Wakefield Park. He said the only way forward was to gain state-significant development status to enable planning to be assessed in a different framework and legislation that supports motor racing across NSW.

Each candidate pledged to work on solutions for Marulan’s growing pains, including the lack of a permanent police presence and ambulance station. They all want better working conditions for childcare workers and services for people with disabilities after the only disability taxi in Goulburn handed in their plates.

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