Iemma ignoring North Coast



BALLINA MP Don Page has accused the NSW Labor Government of ignoring the North Coast by not appointing a special minister for the region.

Mr Page, the shadow minister for the North Coast, said despite a large swing against the government which resulted in Geoff Provest of the Nationals winning the Tweed seat, Premier Morris Iemma was ignoring the area.

"In all North Coast seats there was a significant swing away from Labor, with a 5.1 per cent swing to the Nationals in Ballina, 7.1 per cent to the Nationals in Tweed, 2.3 per cent to the Nationals in Lismore, 5.6 per cent to the Nationals in Coffs Harbour, and 6.5 per cent to the Nationals in the Clarence," Mr Page said.

"The Labor Government has a Minister for the Illawarra, the Hunter, the Central Coast, Redfern-Waterloo and Western Sydney, yet still the North Coast is being overlooked despite the voters of the North Coast sending Labor a clear message at election time."

During the election campaign, the Premier visited the area twice and released his plan for the North Coast. At a cross-border meeting with Queensland Premier Peter Beattie, Mr Iemma said the area warranted special attention.

"This is one of NSW's fastest-growing regions and its circumstances are unique," Mr Iemma said. "That's why we have to make sure we're delivering services that families rely on, and in the most efficient and practical way." A spokesperson for the Premier yesterday dismissed Mr Page's call, saying 'no doubt every community thinks it is important'.

"The Premier is the Premier for all of NSW and is committed to delivering on promises according to the North Coast plan," she said.

"There wasn't a Minister for the North Coast prior to the election and at this stage we've got ministers for certain areas, but not that area. What's going to connect more with the people of the North Coast is to deliver on promises regardless of who the representative in the area is."

Mr Page, however, said it was important to appoint a minister to ensure the North Coast received the specialised attention the Premier had promised.



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