How long have you lived in the region?
I moved to Taree in 1981, where I lived for 19 years, serving on Greater Taree City Council. In 2000 I moved to Forster, where I now live.
> What do you love about living here?
The Manning Valley and Great Lakes is one of the most beautiful areas in NSW. We are lucky to have a healthy balance between industry, farming, fishing and vibrant regional centres.
I’ve worked and lived in both Taree and Forster, and I can’t say enough about the many wonderful people who make this area such a special place to live.
There are so many things to love about living here – especially the natural beauty, but it’s the people and the community spirit which make me so proud to live here and so determined to stand up and seek a better deal for us.
> What is your vision for the region?
The first priority for our region should be restoring a decent level of essential services, such as health and policing, which have been bled dry by Labor over the past sixteen years. Once the basics are taken care of, there is a bright future ahead of us.
We have a great tourist industry in the region, that appeals to people who want a coastal holiday without the hype and the crowds.
We should nurture this as much as possible, while maintaining the pristine environment that draws people here and makes our lives that much more enjoyable.
There is a great opportunity for us to move more of the tourist trade inland into Taree and Wingham and hinterland towns like Krambach. I love our beaches, but we have so much more on offer. More hinterland tourism will greatly help our local economy, and I’m very proud that we’ll be giving an extra $5 million to Regional Tourism Organisations in our first term of government.
> Why have you aligned yourself with The Nationals?
On a broader level, The Nationals are a natural fit for me, because their priorities reflect my own. They put regional interests above all others and respect the right of each member to vote for their local community interests – not necessarily following the party line. That’s what separates us from the other major parties.
What makes us different from an Independent is that as part of a team with members from all across regional NSW, we can actually play a part in formulating policy and influencing government decisions. This appeals to my strong belief that a lot more can be achieved by working together for a common goal than by working as individuals.
In particular at this election, I’m excited about the package we’re taking to the electorate as part of the Liberal and Nationals team – especially quarantining 30% of our new Infrastructure Fund for regional projects, which could deliver up to $1.5 billion of extra money for regional infrastructure projects.
> Tell us something people may not know about you?
I’ve worked in an interesting range of fields – before my work as a solicitor and barrister, I was a cattle farmer, a psychiatric nurse and worked with the NSW Police Force in Taree.
> What is your favourite passtime?
I’m a rugby tragic; I’ve played pretty much my whole life. Sadly, I only trot around for the golden oldies these days, but I’m still pretty involved with the Forster Tuncurry Dolphins Rugby Club. I’m also renovating my house at the moment, which takes a fair bit of my time, but it is pretty rewarding to get things just the way you want them.
> Thank you Stephen.