Nationals pledge to go in to bat for region
By ANDY PARKS firstname.lastname@example.org THE Nationals may have lost the formerly safe Federal seats of Page and Richmond to Labor, but according to Nationals Leader Warren Truss they will still have a voice in Canberra.
Mr Truss was in Lismore yesterday to announce the%appointment of Fiona Nash as the new Duty Senator for the Northern Rivers.
Ms Nash, a Nationals Senator based in the Central West of NSW, was given the role of Duty Senator for Richmond after she entered the Parliament in 2005. Now that role has been extended to include both Federal seats on the Northern Rivers.
"What that will entail is to give people a voice in Canberra outside of the two Labor members," Senator Nash said.
"I'll be there to ensure we keep the Labor Members honest and to also give people a different avenue to have their thoughts and concerns heard in Canberra through me."
"I'll also be talking about our alternative policies. I'll be letting people know what we can offer the region up here, while the Labor Government focuses on the city."
Senator Nash said her role would be substantially different now the Coalition was in Opposition.
"We had a lot of programs that we supported in the area when we were in government, so it will be a different perspective. It's a larger area and I'll be there to make sure people get access to a politician who will go to Canberra and go in to bat for them," she said.
Mr Truss said The Nationals were undergoing a thorough review of the party's structure, headed by former leader John Anderson.
"All options are on the%table," he said in relation to a possible merger with the Liberals.
"That means everything from a more uniform approach to a more separate role. We will be taking submissions for people on how to best represent them in the future," he said.
"The most important thing is doing the job well. The%organisational structure exists to give voice to people in rural and remote areas and we have to be flexible and willing to look at the best way of doing that."