LABOR has gotten in early to field its candidate for the state election six months before the vote, with a community service worker hitting the campaign trail.
Armidale’s Debra O’Brien, a former high school teacher, said she put her hand up to run because the electorate deserves someone who will stand up for them.
During last year’s federal election the party was considering parachuting someone into the seat when there had been no candidate forthcoming five weeks from the election.
The party was more organised this time around, with Ms O’Brien already pitching her priorities for the campaign.
“I will be fighting to stop cuts to health, for increased funding to schools and TAFE and to keep services open that support the most vulnerable in our community,” she said.
It was her belief the Coalition government was “not on our side” and hadn’t stood up for important issues.
“The Member for Northern Tablelands [Adam Marshall] is very good at delivering small funding grants but is completely inefficient when it comes to standing up to his North Shore-based Liberal colleagues and fighting for the things that are most needed in our community,” Ms O’Brien said.
“We have no further commitment … aside from some planning money for the Armidale hospital and no plan to address staff shortages at Moree and Inverell hospitals.”
As the incumbent, Mr Marshall maintains he has stood-up to his Liberal colleagues, saying he “was still pulling knives out of [his] back” because of the fight between the Nationals and Liberals over electricity privatisation in the poles and wires sell-off.
He said the hospital was still at the top of his agenda and didn’t want to see the issue turned into a political football, saying the community had waited long enough to see the redevelopment go ahead.
“I welcome her support on this issue,” he said. “But the politics should be taken out of it.
“The community, and I, don’t care where the money comes from, so long as it happens.”