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Last of the locals?

Saturday, 28th March, 2015

John Williams might be out but he’s not down. John Williams might be out but he’s not down.

By Erica Visser

Broken Hill today faces the likelihood of farewelling the last in a long line of locals to represent the city in state parliament - but John Williams has refused to give up hope.

The NSW Nationals member sits at fourth position on the ticket and last year all but conceded that his tilt at the Upper House would fail.

But Mr Williams was yesterday feeling optimistic following a pleasing poll swing in the Coalition’s favour.

After boundary changes saw the Murray-Darling electorate swallowed by Barwon, Mr Williams urged locals to get behind his final bid to prolong his political career. 

“Well I think things are looking up, there’s definitely a bit of momentum as far as the swing now going towards the Coalition,” Mr Williams yesterday told the BDT.

“It’s suggested that under the current polling the Coalition could see an increase in two more seats in the Upper House and on that basis there’s a chance I could get up.

“What I’d love everyone to do locally is vote with the Coalition in the Upper House. The quota’s about 180,000 votes to win a seat, so we will have to get two million (votes) for me to get up.”

Mr Williams said he had a poorly-construed Labor campaign to thank for the recent boost in the Coalition’s popularity. 

“Obviously this campaign that’s being run by Labor has been deemed as pretty untidy. Some of the things they’ve said have caused some issues and they’ve really had a decrease in their polls running backwards on a daily basis.”

Labor has strongly opposed the Coalition’s controversial bid to lease out the state’s poles and wires to fund infrastructure projects such as a proposed pipeline to the Murray River.

But Mr Williams put the opposition’s comments on the matter down to scare-mongering.

“This is a deceiving campaign, it’s lies by Labor,” he said.

“We’ve made sure as a group, the Nationals, that our country seats aren’t going to be affected by or included in leasing polls and wires.

“So Essential Energy will remain as is. What they’re running out there now is purely a fear campaign.”

Mr Williams said “feral groups”, or minorities such as Greens and Independents, served no purpose within the Upper House but to block progress. 

“If the push towards the Coalition continues that will see 11 spots in Upper House, which is a good thing because I think everyone knows what happens when a feral group is involved.

“All they want to do is stop legislation from going through. Some of the reforms the community was calling out for ... have been stopped by the Greens and others.

“We can’t govern without the majority in the Upper House.”

Mr Williams will be at local polling booths tomorrow to make his final plea to the constituents he has served for the past two terms, with the second term spent in government.

“I think it’s important that voters think about what’s been achieved during the past four years. There are a lot of works in progress and things we’ll complete in the next term of government,” he said.

“Quite honestly, if (voters) elect someone other than a Nationals representative today, there’s an opportunity that a lot of the good work that’s been done will go to waste.”

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