Outback forgotten by Labor, says MP

Friday, 19th October, 2012

John Williams MP John Williams MP

By Gayle Ball

Local MP John Williams has accused the NSW Opposition of being "city-centric" after it failed to appoint a spokesman for Western NSW in its latest reshuffle.

The Member for Murray-Darling said the decision was proof that Labor's focus was on Sydney and not the needs of country NSW.

"The fact they chose not to identify who would be a Shadow Minister for Western NSW...it's really about what happens in Sydney," he said.

"It becomes obvious that Labor is city-centric."

But Opposition Leader John Robertson said that the Shadow Minister for Regional and Rural Affairs represented the West.

"The NSW Opposition has a Shadow Minister for Western NSW in Mick Veitch, who is our Shadow Minister for Regional and Rural Affairs," Mr Robertson said.

"As the Shadow Minister for Regional and Rural Affairs and a former shearer who lives west of the Great Dividing Range, Mick is a passionate supporter of regional development, country rail services and the growth of rural communities."

President of the Broken Hill Branch of the Australian Labor Party (ALP), Darriea Turley, said Mr Veitch had been vocal about issues affecting the
local region, including the city's exclusion from the Resources for Regions funding.

"He's actually been a very good advocate for the Far West in particular," Ms Turley said, "specifically around the Resources for Regions where Broken Hill was left out of the funding.

"He's been to Broken Hill, he understands the issues and he will continue to push issues for the Far West."

But Mr Williams said he believed it was important for both sides of Government to have somebody representing the needs of the Western Region.

"We certainly did under our time in opposition," Mr Williams said.

"We recognised there needed to be someone allocated to talk in Shadow Cabinet about issues surrounding Western NSW.

"It's a very large part of the state."

Mr Williams said he believed Labor would not prioritise the needs of country towns if elected to government.

"That suggests that they wouldn't.

"They've got a very limited knowledge about what happens in regional NSW. Their focus is on metropolitan Sydney."

Mr Robertson on Wednesday night announced an expanded and reshuffled frontbench, following the resignation of former roads spokesman Robert Furolo.

MPs Walt Secord, Ron Hoenig, Ryan Park and Guy Zangari were elevated to the new shadow cabinet, which Mr Robertson said was "fresh, energetic and will take the fight up to Barry O'Farrell."