Barnaby hits local roads
AN INFRASTRUCTURE policy that would relieve pressure on Lismore's roads was foreshadowed by Nationals Senate Leader Barnaby Joyce yesterday.
He was responding to a Newspoll survey that found the condition of roads and petrol prices were major issues for voters in the seat of Page.
Senator Joyce, in Ballina to open a branch office for The Nationals candidate for Page, Kevin Hogan, said he would soon announce details of spending designed to improve safety and traffic flow, not only on local roads but on major roads such as the Pacific Highway.
A key point of the policy would be to take heavy transport inland, away from the coastal highway where ‘mum, dad and the kids' were driving, he said.
This would be done by encouraging heavy transport to use existing, alternative transport corridors and by increasing rail access.
However, when asked if a Coalition government would reduce taxes at the bowser, he said: “There's no point bulls-------. We have no plans to do that.”
On a meet-and-greet of locals, accompanied by Mr Hogan, Senator Joyce was first confronted by a Ballina cafe owner and then by a Lismore butcher who told him that local retailers were doing it tough.
Kate Sanders, of Beanz in Ballina, said takings had dropped by as much as 15 per cent in the past three months while costs kept going up.
Neil Hutley, of Hutley Bros Butchery in South Lismore, echoed the story of rising costs.
It was the senator's chance to return to his favourite theme for the day – the national deficit.
According to Sen Joyce, mounting Government debt was the reason the cost of living, including a 10pc increase in utility prices each of the past three years, was going up and people were spending less.
A Coalition Government would get debt under control and this would impact positively on rising prices and tightening budgets, he said.
“The Labor Party are very good at politics, but absolutely atrocious at managing things,” Sen Joyce said.
Economic measures that ‘were not fun but had to be done' included selling Medibank Private and choosing not to fill some public service jobs as they were vacated.
Sen Joyce also reassuredlocal business owners a carbon price or, indeed, an emission trading scheme were not imminent.
“At ETS just makes poor people poorer,” he said. “It doesn't change the temperature of the globe.”
Asked how the Coalition planned to overcome a strong lean to Julia Gillard by female voters, Mr Joyce joked: “When the war between the sexes starts we're all dead.”
Mr Hogan said Coalition policies crucial to Page voters included a maternity scheme that would offer working mothers six months' leave on 80pc of their pay, the $1.5 billion that would be spent on frontline services in mental health, $300 million to repair local bridges and plans to reinstate the rail service from Casino to Murwillumbah.
He added the reinstatement of core district health boards would result in better medical services.
Not since former Prime Minister Paul Keating have voters been treated to as colourful a turn of phrase as that employed by Senator Barnaby Joyce.
In Page yesterday Sen Joyce treated locals and the media to these observations:
Despite what he saw as the Labor Party's attempt to ‘resurrect WorkChoices', the controversial reform was ‘more over than Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston'.
“They keep taking that dead cat out for a walk,” he said.
Voting was like ‘picking a football team by the way they played the last game'. “And the Labor Party doesn't know how to play the game,” he said.
The Labor Party was a ‘walking, talking, rolling Greek tragedy'.
Australians were ‘never stimulated' by the Business Stimulus Package ‘but definitely touched'.