By JENI FAULKNER
STATE member for Coffs Harbour Andrew Fraser has vowed to keep his seat despite a heated assault in State Parliament that saw him grab NSW Roads Minister Joe Tripodi around the neck.
Mr Fraser was yesterday suspended from parliament for eight days but says he is more determined than ever to continue his fight to upgrade the Pacific Highway, refusing to hand in his resignation.
"I do regret the incident (assaulting Mr Tripodi) and I wish I hadn't done it," he said.
"But, if this means the media pushes for a new road then maybe it's a good thing. I lost my temper in parliament because I know people who have died on the Pacific Highway and I'm angry.
"I've had just two days off this year and maybe I'm tired. Tired of the situation and sick and tired of Tripodi and his excuses."
Tuesday's incident started after the Roads Minister accused Mr Fraser of being absent from the electorate during an announcement about interim safety measures in October.
Mr Fraser was not told of the announcement.
"If I had known Tripodi planned to visit the electorate I would have been there," Mr Fraser said. "I had to attend a friend's funeral but I would never have gone if I knew of the visit. That is how important the Pacific Highway is to me."
Mr Fraser said he did not believe the incident this week would hinder his already shaky relationship with Mr Tripodi.
"I have apologised and the ball is in his court because his actions have upset me and it is time he dropped the political game and started to serve NSW with equity," he said.
In response, Mr Tripodi said he was still in shock after the altercation.
"What Mr Fraser did was a crime and I have chosen not to press charges," Mr Tripodi said. "This is now a test of leadership for the National Party and I will continue to work with community representatives because the people of Coffs Harbour should not suffer because of Andrew Fraser's behaviour."
NSW Premier Morris Iemma said Mr Fraser's actions were 'totally unacceptable' and called on Opposition Leader Peter Debnam to reign in Mr Fraser.
"Parliament is not a place for violence," Mr Iemma said."The Parliament is about raising issues that impact NSW communities and having productive discussions to solve problems and improve our State.
"Coffs Harbour deserves to have a member that can be an advocate for the area without having to resort to blatant acts of violence."