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Local MP launches campaign in Deniliquin

Wednesday, 9th February, 2011

John Williams (right) at his election campaign launch in Deniliquin John Williams (right) at his election campaign launch in Deniliquin

by Gina Wilson

Local MP John Williams has officially kicked off his bid to reclaim the seat of Murray-Darling.

Despite all the predictions of the Coalition winning government in a canter, Mr Williams said yesterday the challenge of beating Labor was real.

"I take every threat seriously," he said.

"No-one's taking anything for granted. There is no area where (the Coalition) is not campaigning seriously.

"We need 11 seats to win government which is a significant number of seats."

Mr Williams defeated former Labor MP Peter Black in the 2007 election when the boundaries were changed to favour The Nationals. 

He has two offices in an electorate that covers almost half of NSW; one in Broken Hill and the other in Deniliquin.

Mr Williams said he chose Deniliquin for Monday's campaign launch, officiated by the deputy leader of The Nationals, Adrian Piccoli, because it had been hit hard by Labor policies over the last 15 years, not because Broken Hill's vote did not count.

"No, certainly not. I have an office in Broken Hill and I spend most of my time there," he said.

Mr Williams pointed to Deniliquin's water problems, the forestry industry, the rice industry and the removal of services.

"The Labor Government's policies have impacted on their lives so much," Mr Williams.

"I want to give equal representation to each area. This is a campaign that will be spread all over the electorate."

Premier Kristina Keneally apologised to voters on Sunday at an unofficial Labor Party campaign launch in Western Sydney, where she addressed about 400 people.

"We lost our way because we were to focused on ourselves," she said.

The Premier said a re-elected Labor Government would ease cost of living pressures and announced a near-billion dollar package to do so.

Labor's candidate for Murray-Darling, Neville Gasmier, said the $913 million Fairness for Families plan would increase and extend the eligibility for the energy rebate, saving families at least $100 per year on their power bills.

Mr Gasmier called on Mr Williams to put politics aside and throw his support behind the plan.

While Mr Williams said people were struggling, a hand out would not solve the problem of rising prices.

"That's all well and good but they've had 16 years to get the efficiencies (sorted out) in power in particular," he said.

"Rather that dealing with the problem they've decided they will have a subsidy.

"There's no doubt any sum of money will help families struggling with the bills.

"I would be looking to the Coalition Government to at least match that support.

"People are hurting right now. That money will help them but the hard work still has to be done to address the price issues in some of these government services."

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