Gulaptis defends North Coast minister axing
CHRIS Gulaptis has defended the downgrading of the Minister for the North Coast saying as Parliamentary Secretary he will have more time to take his constituents' North Coast issues to cabinet.
The Clarence MP's appointment came as part of the Baird Grant cabinet reshuffle announced on Wednesday.
The North Coast wasn't the only ministerial position scrapped by the coalition, with ministers for the Illawarra, Hunter, Western NSW and the Central Coast also axed.
Mr Gulaptis said amending the position to a parliamentary secretary role would see more North Coast issues put before parliament.
"I think this role is a dedicated role to a local member who has an ear to the ground who can bring back grass roots concerns to the cabinet," he said.
"Previously a minister had several portfolios to contend with and would not be able to give the North Coast the time it deserves."
Mr Gulaptis defended the downgrading of the ministerial position his Nationals stable mate, former Ballina MP Don Page, fought so hard to establish.
"You can have a minister in name, who does not live here and is not aware of the issues, or you can have someone who does live here, is aware of the issues and raises them in cabinet.
"You have 22 ministers with portfolios and with the Minister for the North Coast position you are saddling them with another portfolio they don't have the time to tackle."
"This in fact I think is probably a more sensible approach to ensure the regions are represented."
"Each and every person on the North Coast needs to feel they are being represented."
The issues Mr Gulaptis sees in Clarence, he said, reverberate across the whole North Coast.
"The key issues are jobs, health, CSG and protecting our most vulnerable.
"We are a lifestyle region that we need to protect, but that brings with it its own problems because people flock to a lifestyle region.
"We have high youth unemployment; we have homelessness and people with disabilities who need to get jobs."