Visits precursor to election

AN UNOFFICIAL election campaign has kicked off with three Federal ministers visiting the Northern Rivers in the last week.

Although no date has been set for this year's Federal election, the Government appears to be in poll mode judging by the high level of ministerial activity locally.

Minister Assisting the Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, Minister for Defence Materiel and Science Greg Combet was in Casino last Wednesday to open the revitalisation of the CBD, despite it being completely unrelated to his portfolios.

On Monday, Warren Snowdon, the Indigenous, Rural and Regional Health Minister, was in Lismore for the opening of the new cancer care unit.

Yesterday, the paid parental leave scheme, which was passed through Parliament in June, was reiterated by the Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs Jenny Macklin while she cuddled babies and laughed with mothers at Target in Goonellabah.

Ms Macklin shrugged off predictions by Centrebet, an Australian betting agency, that the election will be held on August 28 – saying she is not a punter.

“The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, has said there will be an election sometime in this half of the year, so I'm sure when it comes we will be talking with you all,” she said.

“I am a very regular visitor to this part of the world. We have just got the legislation through the Parliament to introduce Paid Parental Leave and, of course, we are wanting to get out and make sure local people understand it is coming.”

Centrebet, renowned for its close predictions, has placed Labor at $1.24 to win the election and the Coalition at $3.85 as of 4pm yesterday

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