Old rivals face off again

CANDIDATE: Kate Washington will contest the State Government in the 2015 election.
CANDIDATE: Kate Washington will contest the State Government in the 2015 election.

THE showdown for the seat of Port Stephens at the next state government election will be a 2011 rematch after Medowie's Kate Washington confirmed she would contest Liberal incumbent Craig Baumann.

Ms Washington was endorsed by the ALP on Friday afternoon as the only nominee for preselection.

When speaking to the Examiner on Monday Ms Washington said while she had not planned to run again, she was swayed after being exposed to what she described as injustices in the community.

A partner in Newcastle law firm Catherine Henry Partners, which specialises in health law, Ms Washington deals mainly with medical negligence cases.

She also deals with those at the Tomaree Centre and Stockton Centre, which both face closure as a result of changes in state government legislation and the roll-out of the federal National Disability Insurance Scheme.

She said she witnessed firsthand the impact the Liberal government's health care cuts had on "those most vulnerable".

"Port Stephens deserves someone who cares. That's why I'm standing again," she said.

"I care about our community's health, I care about our kids' futures and I care that the most vulnerable members of our community are being ignored.

"As a health lawyer, I can see that our public health system is heading towards disaster. We've got a growing and ageing population and yet the state government has cut funding to health."

Mr Baumann holds the Port seat with a margin of 15 per cent and narrowly beat Labor Candidate Jim Arneman by 68 votes in the 2007 election before facing Ms Washington in 2011.

He said he wished Ms Washington all the best for her campaign but said he would not get caught up with the election 12 months out.

"I'm concentrating on what's best for the Port Stephens community, he said.

"We just started the sitting year."

In previous years Ms Washington has rallied for a public high school in Medowie and when asked if this would be high on the agenda during the campaign she said education was one of many issues she was passionate about.

"Out kids have limited access to public secondary schooling and cuts to TAFE have seen different education paths closed," she said.

"I cannot allow the state government to treat our lives and our kids' futures so carelessly," Ms Washington said.

But Mr Baumann said he was committed to a high school but stated it could not occur until the population in the area increased.

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