Business as usual
By JENI FAULKNER
IF you feel like shaking hands with State member for Coffs Harbour Andrew Fraser, be prepared to stand in line.
While our 'passionate' MP has been at the centre of a storm in both Macquarie Street and the media following his physical assault on NSW Roads Minister Joe Tripodi in parliament on Tuesday, he has also received widespread backing for his push to have the Pacific Highway upgraded.
Mr Fraser spent the first day of his eight-day suspension from parliament yesterday frantically answering phone calls, sifting through hundreds of emails and letters and also taking a brief walk down the street, where he found plenty of locals wanting to pass on their congratulations.
"The community support I have received humbles me," Mr Fraser said.
"It humbles me in the true sense of the word.
"To walk down the street and have people come up to me and support me is reassuring."
The debate about Mr Fraser's attack on Mr Tripodi during a heated debate about Pacific Highway funding continued yesterday, with the State Government applying pressure to the Opposition and saying it should exclude the Coffs Harbour MP from the party room. Independent member for Port Macquarie Rob Oakeshott called Mr Fraser's suspension 'a soft punishment'.
"We all have to deal with life and death but this doesn't justify thumping each other," he said. (See more reports Page 3)
Arriving back home yesterday, Mr Fraser said even though he was suspended from parliament, he was not suspended from serving the people.
"In reality, I should never have done it (assaulted Mr Tripodi), I know that," he said.
"But it was just one of those moments the Pacific Highway can cause you to have and I have apologised for my actions."
Mr Fraser agrees it is sad his actions have created such a media storm, but he is thankful Australians can now understand his push for action to upgrade the Pacific Highway.
He said the main focus was on the Pacific Highway and already it appeared good news was starting to surface.
Mr Fraser yesterday welcomed the re-opening of the Sid Burke Rest Area at Pine Creek.
"I've been calling for this area to re-open for four months and I think we have had a windfall," he said.
Mr Fraser is continuing to fight for upgrades to the Pacific Highway.
He is pushing for concrete barriers to be installed at Pine Creek to boost safety in the period before the Bonville deviation is completed.
"You can't afford to make one simple error on that area of the highway because if you make a mistake you are dead," Mr Fraser said.
"We need something out on the blackspot to stop people running into each other and a barrier will save lives."