Ahead of voting on March 23 the Examiner asked the six election candidates why they think they're the best candidate for Port Stephens.
Here are their responses listed in order as they appear on the ballot:
Jaimie Abbott, Liberal
Port Stephens is my home, and where I’ve chosen to raise my family. I care about the future of this community, and making sure that we get better roads, better schools, better facilities for local families, and more local job opportunities.
The only way that this can happen is with a local member who can advocate for the community’s needs, and be a strong voice in the NSW Government. On top of my record of delivery as a Port Stephens councillor, my advocacy during this campaign helped to deliver government commitments to additional bus services, road and school upgrades, a new TAFE, and immediate review of the Marine Park.
Since this campaign begun, I’ve had an opportunity to meet and speak with local families, small businesses and community organisations across the region. I am honoured to have been welcomed into so many homes and businesses, and told about their lives, their ideas and ambitions for Port Stephens.
While we have benefited from the government’s strong economic management, there is still more to do. If I am elected as the member for Port Stephens I would focus on making sure that we get better transport, schools and health services.
Bradley Jelfs, Sustainable Australia
It is apparent that there is insufficient political focus on the future for our young people and the issues that face them and us right now.
Sustainable Australia is not trying to change the world, but to focus on four big issues that we feel we can address and that will make a real difference. I believe these policies are front and centre of the concerns of the silent majority: a sustainable environment and population, better planning to stop over-development, affordable housing for first home buyers and renters and secure jobs via a more diverse economy.
I think the silent majority have had enough of the lies and promises and failures of the Liberals, Labor and Greens in addressing the most basic, yet critically important issues as I’ve suggested. We have sensible policies for each of these issues; action plans that are simple, realistic and achievable.
Kate Washington, Country Labor
My priorities will always be those of my community – properly funding preschools, schools and TAFE, protecting our environment, improving health services including mental health, and driving down the cost of living for local families.
Education from preschool to school and TAFE will be a priority for me. A Labor Government will fully fund Gonski, fix the school maintenance backlog, air condition every classroom and give $5000 to every P&C every year. We will save TAFE by offering free courses in skills shortage areas like aged care, childcare, construction and electrical trades.
Under a Labor Government, hospitals will be properly resourced with an additional 5500 nurses and the introduction of nurse-to-patient ratios, improving patient outcomes. Cost of living continues to bite families hard, with many people struggling to pay their energy bills and put food on the table.
Labor has a plan to re-regulate the energy market and drive down costs by investing in renewable energy. This is just one strategy Labor will introduce to ease the cost of living for families while helping out our environment.
Bill Doran, Independent
I believe I would be the most suitable candidate because I only have one allegiance and that is the community of Port Stephens. I feel it is time for the community to take the reins once again and control government, rather than government control every aspect of our lives.
With the very likelihood of a minority government, now is the time to have an Independent in the seat, hanging over the government's head like the sword of Damocles. The budget and greater economic outlook is in trouble and that is going to see some of the many promised projects in real doubt.
Neither party has offered a legally binding document that ties any of their promises to reality. Myself on the other hand, will sign a document tomorrow dedicating 30 per cent of my after tax parliamentary salary to the Port Stephens community, if elected. In the first instance this money would be earmarked to buy air-conditioning for public primary schools in our electorate. We control the government's destiny not the other way round.
Maureen Magee, The Greens
A first preference vote for me on the Lower House ballot paper will send a powerful message to whoever is elected in Port Stephens, and to whichever parties form government, that they cannot dodge the important issues.
We need more transparency and more responsiveness to local communities’ priorities. In Port Stephens that means keeping public land in public hands, stopping over-development, protecting habitat for koalas and other threatened flora and fauna, and looking after our marine environment, as well as seeking justice for the hundreds of families affected by PFAS contamination at Williamtown and Salt Ash.
Theresa Taylor, Animal Justice Party
Representing Port Stephens, I know the importance of protecting koalas from extinction. I will advocate for a bill to ban logging in native forests as this is the leading cause to koala extinction. I will also present an inquiry into kangaroo slaughter, setting a renewable energy target and banning animals used in circuses.
I will help farmed animals by pushing for mandatory CCTV cameras in all abattoirs and intensive farms and having the RSPCA replaced by police for investigations and prosecutions. I will advocate for mandatory shade for all farmed animals and the banning of cruel battery hen cages.
I will fight to make sure Animal Justice Party’s core values; kindness, equality, rationality and non violence are a part of our political system. Animal Justice Party's core values mean that when making decision on humans that voting for us is also voting for you.
Early voting centres are now open in Raymond Terrace and Nelson Bay.
To vote before March 23, go to the Port Stephens election manager's office at 46 William Street, Raymond Terrace or All Saints Anglican Church at 25 Church Street, Nelson Bay.
Both pre-poll locations will be open until Friday, March 22.
The opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday to Friday and 9am-5pm Saturdays. The early voting centres will be open 8am-8pm on Thursday, March 21.
To see where to go to vote in Port Stephens on Saturday, March 23, click here.