Luke takes local poll

By DAVID MOASE

RELIEVED and delighted to have made its through what he considers a 'big job interview', re-elected member for Cowper Luke Hartsuyker has already mapped out some of the big issues he wants to tackle in the next three years.

Mr Hartsuyker secured more than 50 per cent of first preference votes in Saturday's election and looks set to finish with a two party-preferred margin about seven per cent, an increase of 1.7 per cent.

While the swing was not as large as some others achieved by the Nationals, Mr Hartsuyker is more than happy to have made Cowper safer for his party.

"I'm relieved and delighted at the outcome," he said.

"Standing for election is like facing a job interview ? a big job interview with 84,235 people on the interview panel.

"Myself and my staff have worked very hard for Cowper over the past three years so it is pleasing to have such a good result."

With nearly 20 per cent of votes still to come from postal and pre-poll voting, Mr Hartsuyker expects his position to improve further in the coming week.

He said job creation was at the top of his list of things to do following the Nationals' $12 million election promise to include the North Coast in the Sustainable Regions Program.

Other issues Mr Hartsuyker is keen to work on are infrastructure projects, aged care improvements, the implementation of the Coalition's funding scheme for capital upgrades at public and private schools and the improvement of health services.

Saturday's result came in the face of a campaign by other candidates and local businessman Tim Serisier calling on voters to 'make Cowper marginal'.

ALP candidate Allan Williams maintained the level of his party's vote, which was virtually unchanged from the 2001 poll.

He said he was happy to receive 32 per cent of the first preference votes but was extremely disappointed by the ALP's Australia-wide performance.

"Locally, we were not expecting anything too earth moving, but we're all a bit shattered by the overall result," he said.

Mr Williams said he would be keen to run as the ALP candidate again and wanted to see the party build itself up in the eyes of the community.

Greens Candidate John Carty saw his party's vote rise by 3.4 per cent, but was also disappointed with the national outcome.

"The Greens have an important role to play in Cowper because we're now the third major party," he said.

"Luke Hartsuyker can't ignore us now."

Mr Serisier, who financed an advertisement and a booklet asking voters to 'Put the Nationals last', said his campaign had been ineffective.

Asked if he would run a similar campaign in the future, Mr Serisier said em- phatically: 'Not in a hurry'.



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