No front bench for local MPs
COFFS Harbour is not represented in the ranks of the NSW Coalition Cabinet, in spite of its resounding support for local MP Andrew Fraser and the Nationals at the March 26 election.
Longstanding Coffs Harbour Nationals MP Andrew Fraser has missed out on a Cabinet post, and Coffs Harbour-based MLC Melinda Pavey has been dumped from the front bench.
But the southern sections of the Coffs Coast have a strong voice in the upper echelons of Parliament.
The deputy premier and NSW National Party leader Andrew Stoner’s electorate of Oxley includes Bellingen, Urunga and the Nambucca Valley.
Mr Stoner will lead a new super-ministry of Trade and Investment, Regional Infrastructure and Services.
New Premier Barry O’Farrell said key regional areas of NSW would finally be recognised by the new Cabinet.
Don Page is the new Minister for the North Coast.
Coffs Harbour-based NSW Legislative Council Nationals MP Melinda Pavey, who was the Opposition spokeswoman on emergency services, has been left off Barry O’Farrell’s front bench.
But Mr O’Farrell paid tribute to her and two other dumped Coalition MPs, saying there would likely be opportunities for them in the future.
“They have done a terrific job, and I expect there will be further opportunities for them in the future,” he said
“Unfortunately we cannot appoint everyone who deserves to be in Cabinet, otherwise we would have the biggest Cabinet in history.”
Mrs Pavey, who has been an MLC since 2002, joins Catherine Cusack and Greg Aplin in the move to the back bench.
She said yesterday there were many swings and roundabouts in politics.
“I will be happy to serve in any capacity in the O’Farrell/Stoner Government,” Mrs Pavey said.
“There is a lot of work ahead.”
She said she was “incredibly proud” of the results in the Monaro and Port Macquarie electorates, where she helped lay the groundwork for Coalition victories on March 26.
She was also pleased that some great policies for emergency services would now see the light of day, including her work to include water safety under the Emergency Services portfolio and an extra $12 million in funding for that.
She said in Opposition she had also helped persuade the outgoing NSW Government to allocate an extra $60 million for hazard reduction burning in national parks.
The National Party’s youngest MP when she entered Parliament, Melinda Pavey has been a member of the Parliamentary Committee on Children and Young People since 2003, and has also been the National Party’s duty MLC for the electorate of Monaro.
Mr O’Farrell said he would appoint parliamentary secretaries before Parliament resumes.
Andrew Fraser is the third longest-serving member of the NSW Legislative Assembly, having been elected to the Lower House in 1990, but has had a rocky political road since 2005, when he attempted to tackle Joe Tripodi during a debate on the Pacific Highway.
Suspended from Parliament and sacked by former Opposition leader Peter Debnam, Mr Fraser was controversially reinstated to the Opposition front bench in 2006.
He was Opposition spokesman on primary industries, road safety and rural affairs, and was the deputy leader of the NSW Nationals from March 2007 to October 2008 before being deposed by Adrian Piccoli.
On Friday Mr Fraser said he had worked extremely hard over the years to represent the people of Coffs Harbour in State Parliament and would continue to do so.
“It is difficult to do when in Opposition, but now as a member of the Government I will have an even stronger voice in Parliament,” Mr Fraser said.
He was not available for comment yesterday.