BEFORE voters head to the polls tomorrow, the Leader has created candidate profiles for the New England. Candidates were asked their views and policies on education, water security, business and jobs, housing, and climate change. The United Australia Party's Cindy Duncan, Liberal Democrats' Pavlo Samios, and Pauline Hanson's One Nation Richard Thomas did not respond to the Leader's questions.
Mr Joyce has been Member for the New England since 2013, and is also leader of the Nationals and deputy prime minister. He was born in Tamworth, almost 100 years to the day after his great grandmother was also born in the city, and he lives at Danglemah, north-west of Kootingal, which is also where he was raised.
He split his schooling between Woolbrook and Sydney, before graduating the University of New England with a Bachelor of Financial Administration. He worked as a farm worker, nightclub bouncer and an accountant, before entering politics in 2005 for the National Party, as a senator in Queensland.
Mr Joyce has six children and a partner.
As a person who's been blessed with two young kids I understand the importance of childcare, and Vikki [Campion, his partner] certainly makes sure I'm aware of that.
You've seen my position on education and obtaining substantial funding so we can start building the University of New England in Tamworth.
A recent announcement was the upgrade of a childcare facility at Guyra, and it's not just that, it's making sure we have access to this facility throughout the length and breadth of our electorate.
During this campaign one of my two most substantial commitments has been on education.
At an even higher level above that, it's bringing the research centre for regulatory science into Armidale, which is another $15 million massive announcement to expand the capacity of post-graduate jobs at the highest level in our electorate.
I think water security is synonymous with my name, whether it's Quipolly Dam, whether it's the former Chaffey Dam which I got, or my continual fight to get Dungowan Dam for the city of Tamworth and the Peel Valley.
It's also making sure the off-stream storage for Walcha is built, or the upgrade of the water treatment facility at Tenterfield and Urbenville.
There's more to do, Malpas Dam is the next thing on my radar and how we go forward there, water security is essential because water is wealth and a dam is a bank.
I'm fighting alongside council and all levels of government to get the global gateway built, that will bring 7000 new jobs into Tamworth, and you can see the people turning up.
A real estate agent told me one in every four houses that sell now are to people in Sydney, so we've got to make sure we've got the jobs for them to go to, and we're doing that.
It's also the expansion and strength of Inverell and making sure the tourism industry grows in Tenterfield, it's making sure the horse and equine industry and also mining in the Hunter Valley continues on.
Because these all bring wealth and jobs, not just for the people doing it but for all the support structure around them, whether that's tyre fitters, to accountants, to solicitors, to biomathematicians.
We're saying to people if you can come up with 5 per cent deposit you can get another 40 per cent or $50,000, which ever is lesser, from your super fund so you owe money to yourself and not to the bank.
This gives people a greater capacity to deal with rising interest rates as well as making them the owner of the house.
This policy has been well received because people have always said 'it's my money, and I want to spend it on things that I think are a good investment, not what some corporate super fund and people on the board think are a good investment with my money'.
Climate change is certainly and issue and as an honourable nation, unlike other nations, every target that has been set we have met.
What I make sure is we don't go forward with a process that kicks people to the gutter and kicks them out of a job. I want to make sure there are alternative industries where people have a choice to go to, not are forced to go to.
I don't want people to go from $46 an hour in the mining industry, to going to $26 an hour putting in solar panels. If you want to do this, you do it with respect to the jobs of the people that you're affecting.
Ms Hughes is a long term Tamworth local, and many would know her through her many years of primary school teaching. She also currently volunteers as a breastfeeding counsellor and trainer for the Australian Breastfeeding Association.
She has been involved with the Labor party for a number of years, but this is her first time running for an election. She also ran for Tamworth Regional Council in 2021 on the Labor ticket, but was unsuccessful.
Ms Hughes has four adult children.
The first thing we need to do is make childcare cheaper, so more families can access childcare, or families that are currently accessing childcare can access more childcare.
One of the issues with childcare is having sufficient staff and sufficient places for the children, so a complementary policy we have is that we have 465,000 fee-free TAFE places and some of those will be in childcare.
So we can get childcare workers properly trained and get them out there.
For education more broadly, we're also going to increase university places by 20,000, and we're going to target the courses where we need people and that would be medicine, nursing and teaching.
For teaching we're offering an incentive to students who get an ATAR above 80, we're going to give them some money while they go through uni. If they agree to work regionally we'll give them a bit more money.
Dungowan Dam has been mentioned for a while now and I'm frustrated because it's been said Labor will not proceed with any dam augmentation, that is untrue.
Labor's position is we have not seen the business plan, we've heard it's going to cost $1.3 billion, it seems like when we do a cost benefit analysis that may come out not particularly beneficial to our region, and that the water is going to end up being very expensive.
I don't want Tamworth ratepayers to actually find themselves in two or three or five years' time paying 10 times as much for their water.
I think it's disingenuous to harp on about Dungowan Dam as if that's the only thing that needs to be done.
I've spoken with the Tamworth Water Security Alliance, and they know the facts and figures and they are very concerned, and there are potentially other options.
There's lots and lots of issues for businesses, mostly to do with getting skilled staff, and that goes back to the TAFE and the uni places and that sort of thing.
We've got a policy on reducing red tape, so things like merchant fees, getting those down and various other things.
One of the big issues, especially further up where we've had bushfires, is accessing various supports and grants. In the current system you have to do summersaults and backward flips and goodness knows what else to even get the paperwork in.
Then you might get two days down the track and find out you're not eligible because of a loophole, it's very frustrating to businesses who are entitled to that, so we're going to make that much more straight forward for that sort of thing.
Our housing policy is offering equity in a house that a low income single or couple buys, and that's going to happen more in the regions than in the cities.
Regional areas are going to benefit from that.
The housing policy is going to help people get into a home, and if they're in their own home they're more likely to stay here and work.
So businesses won't have that issue of people leaving to go to bigger cities and that sort of thing.
Something in the order of 90 per cent of Australians, and a very high percentage even in this electorate, are very concerned about climate change and the affects of that upon us and the generations to come.
It's absolutely critical the next federal government and the one after that, and the one after that take responsibility for bringing in policies and change so that we can address that.
We must transition to renewable energy, we must reduce emissions, there's no if, ands or buts about it, so Labor plans to get to 43 per cent reduction in emissions by 2030, if we can do it faster then great.
Ms Ledger is a mother and lives in the Northern Tablelands town of Uralla. She served as a councillor on Uralla Shire Council between 2016 and 2021, but was unsuccessful in her bid to retain the role at the last local government election.
Our education system has not enough input from professional staff, our educational system is broken.
Highly trained staff with experience and knowledge in the field understand the required changes in the system, for better educational outcomes, along with a pay rise.
We will listen to teachers and stop the blanket approach.
Childcare centres in NSW are very well run, carers go above and beyond, we will continually assist centres to continue to provide for our most valuable assets, our children.
Our comprehensive water plan locally and regionally covers local, regional, short term and long term security, as well as supporting new water saving technologies.
Everyone will become budding entrepreneurs naturally, we will talk business and more business, small business is where it's at.
Business owner operators understand the importance and value in giving back. Giving back to community training staff.
Our plan enables smooth pathways for businesses to train and retain staff.
[Our plan is] for each council to submit a comprehensive business analysis on how to deliver the physical challenge housing project, supplying returns, identifying demand for professional services, and adding vibrancy in community.
Also offsets to provide strata for savers looking to buy their first home can be easily added and implemented, producing real solutions for our young community members to own their homes.
Our environmental responsibility is ensuring we maintain to the best of our ability, from rubbish through to water, our most valued asset, our environment.
Ms Sparks was the mayor of Glen Innes for three years until 2021, and is a current Glen Innes Severn shire councillor. She was deputy mayor for a year from 2016.
She rose to national prominence in 2019 after her Wytaliba home was destroyed in a bushfire as part of the devastating Black summer bushfires. A member of her family was hospitalised after rushing to the aid of a member of the community, one of many injured in the tragic blaze, which claimed two lives.
Carol is a trained nurse, registered in 1972 and working as both a palliative and aged care nurse until 2014. She's been married to husband Badja for 50 years, has two children, three grandchild and two great-grandchildren.
As Glen Innes mayor, in 2019, I called for council to declare a climate emergency and to put in a plan to reduce emissions and prepare for disastrous climate events such as drought in the strategic plans of council. For instance, that might mean securing water access by expanding water storage in towns and preparing for hot days by planting shade trees in car parks and streets.
The Greens' policy on climate change includes detailed plans to phase out coal, oil and gas, remove gas and coal money from politics, help homes and businesses transition from gas, assist workers and their communities to transition to a renewable future, prepare for climate impacts, rebuild local manufacturing with low cost green energy, to establish a publicly-owned power provider, develop and electric vehicle industry, and invest in public transport infrastructure.
The Greens plan includes investing $19 billion over the next four years to ensure early childhood education and care is free and accessible for everyone.
We would also work at ensuring early childhood educators have well paid, secure jobs, strengthening early learning for First Nations children through support for First Nations community-controlled services, boosting women's capacity to engage in paid work, and relieve financial pressure on parents, guardians and caregivers and phasing out for-profit early learning and ensure every child has access to high-quality, government provided or not-for-profit service.
We have a policy to spend $49 billion to fully fund public schools, making school genuinely free for all students with the resources every student needs to learn, by ensuring there's no expenses for parents for out-of school-hours activities such as sport and music, which should be considered essential parts of the public curriculum, and by increasing building and infrastructure funding to $400 million a year and ensuring that the majority of funds go to the public schools.
We also have a policy of free TAFE and university access, and wiping out student debt.
The Greens will push to establish a federal housing trust, which will build 750,000 new public and community houses to slash public housing waiting lists and end homelessness; build 125,000 new public new public universal-access rental homes to provide affordable housing for more people who want to live in communities close to where they work, especially essential and frontline workers and create 135,000 new jobs in construction and services to support Australia's economic recovery.
Providing mental health care and dental treatment in Medicare is essential for communities to live a healthy and happy life.
Making sure a nurse-to-patient ratio is adhered to and wages increased appropriately
We have a policy to address doctor shortages in rural towns.
Taxing the billionaires and big corporations and calling for a federal ICAC.
Integrity, honesty, transparency and respect is what we need in our next government.
Matt Sharpham is a Tamworth-based independent candidate for the New England election.
The 38-year-old has been married for 19 years and has two children, and has lived in the region for all but four years of his life.
He started his career as an avionics engineer, before working in the public service for 15 years as an information communications and technology supervisor. He also runs a small business installing solar power and bore pumps. The latter career has taken him to Central Africa, where he has worked with locals voluntarily installing renewable energy, where he's also helped build an orphanage and school.
He believes "there has been far too much government interference" as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and "it's time for the great Australian way of life to return".
Water security is a massive issue, particularly for Tamworth.
The coalition (both state and federal) are pushing the Dungowan Dam as a silver bullet, however, there has been significant pushback from not only stakeholders and landowners, but also from ratepayers. It's not widely known the Tamworth ratepayers also have to pay back the emergency pipeline from Chaffey to Dungowan. There is no transparency on the business case, on the cost to the ratepayer and at a cost of $80 million per gigalitre, it's just not viable. There are better options available that aren't being explored, like pipelines from Keepit and Split Rock Dams, further upgrade of Chaffey Dam, and buying sleeper licenses.
Climate change is always a hot topic, however, we need to work together to find a solution we can all agree on without crippling industry and agriculture. Solar and wind are far from silver bullets. The price of power is continually rising, and this is attributed to us turning off our power stations before having suitable alternatives in place. Hydro-electrics are very under-utilised considering the mountainous terrain and amount of water we get through the New England. The Oakey Dam hydroelectric generator should be re-established and the insurance money recovered.
Solar-on-schools programs should be established as this will have very little impact on the immediate environment, but still reduce operating costs for schools. The installation must be done by a local contractor - as I have seen the quality of the installations done by 'the cheapest quote'.
Businesses should also be encouraged to install solar through interest free loans - as this will make personal investment, grow local businesses with very little cost to the tax payer, and the business will enjoy the dividends for years to come. Government investment in solar and creation of solar farms is not a viable long term option. Better research into land usage for solar farms needs to be carried out before we sacrifice too much.
Our major parties have lost touch with the average Australian. Our education system is failing us. Firstly, there was 11,000 educators and staff stood down due to the mandates in NSW alone and we wonder why there is a shortage of teachers [Editors note: between November 2021, and April 2022, the department terminated 981 temporary and full time teaching contracts due to the vaccination mandate]. This is in addition to the daycare educators also stood down.
The woke agendas that are creeping into our schools are not ok. It's creating confusion for our children and exposing them to ideas their minds are not ready for. First and foremost we need to get everyone - no matter what their field - back to work and end these mandates; if you think they've been ended, ask people if they're back at work. Once we have our workforce back to normal, we can then address the shortfalls in our staffing - and this must include support staff.
Housing affordability is a huge issue and affects quite a spread of people. Our region has very little to no affordable housing available - this leads to issues with domestic violence and homelessness.
We've seen many thousands of new house blocks, but very little additional affordable housing. Additionally, first home owners are finding it more and more difficult to get into the housing market, but the proposed policies by the coalition and the Labor party are going to push house prices even higher - and reduce people's retirement. The coalition and Labor are not listening - as completely independent, I will have the voice of the community.
Our region needs to grow to support and encourage professionals to move here. Our manufacturing sector needs to grow and be encouraged to grow. I will propose a case study into the reinstatement of the Northern Rail line as a railway - this will encourage goods to be moved as well as build the tourism. It will also increase safety on our roads and take some pressure off them.
Ms Duncan is 57 years old and is a mother of one, and grandmother of two.
She has taken on many roles across her career, including time as a legal secretary, real estate agent, creative writer and counsellor.
She also ran for the United Australia Party at the 2019 federal election.
Mr Samios has spent his working life as a supply chain expert specialising in software innovation - for the past 10 years in the capacity as owner of his own consultancy.
His grandparents immigrated to the region from Greece, and his parents were married in Inverell.
Mr Samios recently returned to Inverell to live, and has named his election focuses as small business, rural life and personal freedom.
Mr Thomas lives in Queensland, and has listed foreign ownership, affordable energy and cost of living among his priorities.
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I'm a news reporter who enjoys covering politics and energy, but I will write about anything for my community. I moved to the New England in 2021 after spending several years in the Upper Hunter.
I'm a news reporter who enjoys covering politics and energy, but I will write about anything for my community. I moved to the New England in 2021 after spending several years in the Upper Hunter.
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