Labor’s man for State poll
Monday, 10th January, 2011
By Andrew Robertson
NSW Labor is pinning its hopes on Deputy Mayor Neville Gasmier unseating fellow local and Nationals incumbent John Williams at the State election in March.
Mr Gasmier, who was pre-selected unopposed as the Labor candidate for Murray-Darling, faces a mountain of a challenge to take the seat that Mr Williams won from Peter Black and Labor in 2007.
Not only does the Nationals MP hold the seat by a comfortable margin of 10 per cent, but Labor is facing certain defeat at the March 26 election, if recent polls are a guide.
But Mr Gasmier, who is also president of the local ALP branch, would rather focus on the future than dwell on past results or the latest polls.
He said he wouldn’t be contesting the seat if he thought he couldn’t win it. “It would not be fair to myself, the Labor Party or the community if I did not think I could win the seat.
“There’s a job available, we now have two applicants for that job and that’s got to be a good thing. “Obviously I think I can do a better job representing the people of Murray-Darling.”
Murray-Darling became a notional Nationals seat even before the last election following a boundary redistribution that took out the Labor towns of Cobar and Bourke and added the conservative seat of Deniliquin.
Mr Gasmier should at least expect strong support in his home town, which is still a Labor stronghold, although Mr Black lost some ground to the Nationals at the last election.
While Labor might be on the nose with voters across the State, Mr Gasmier said there was no contest when it came to the party with the best policies, or leader.
“It seems the Coalition have come up with no policies or options to the current Labor Government. “I would back (NSW Premier) Kristina Keneally over Coalition leader) Barry O’Farrell every day of the week.”
As for the man who represents this electorate, Mr Gasmier believes Mr Williams also needs to “highlight to the community what he has achieved”.
He said if he won the seat he would work hard to represent the electorate, whether it be as part of government or in opposition.
“I’ve been in opposition before, that does not deter me in any way,” he told the BDT. “I’m looking forward to the challenge that representing the people and communities in the Murray-Darling electorate brings.
“I am no stranger to accepting challenges and fighting for the residents of western NSW.”
One of those challenges was fighting the federal government’s plan for an aquifer at Menindee. Mr Gasmier said the proposal was not wanted by local residents.
“The feedback I get are people are against the aquifer.”
His other priorities were to work to implement the new Local Health Network and fight for better services.
With less than 80 days until the election, that doesn’t leave a lot of time to get a handle on the host of other issues facing other parts of the electorate.
“So I’ve got a busy schedule ahead of me but I intend to get around the electorate as much as I can.
“I’m here to listen to people and listen to concerns and to get answers.”