Nats to talk regional projects in Orange

A Blue Mountains Expressway, hydroelectric generation on agenda for Central Regional Conference


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More than 100 Nationals members will be in Orange on Saturday to discuss potential initiatives for the bush.

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AN expressway through the Blue Mountains, palliative care, hydroelectric generation at Windamere and Burrendong dams and wider incentives for teachers to move to rural areas will be among the issues canvassed when more than 100 Nationals members descend on Orange Ex-Services’ Club this Saturday for the first Central Regional Conference. 

From 9am members from the Barwon, Northern Tablelands, Tamworth, Dubbo, Orange, Upper Hunter, Cessnock and Bathurst state electorates will debate policies in a format trialled in Lismore, Griffith and Taree. 

About 60 motions have been submitted, reportedly double the number from other regional conferences, although there will only be time to debate about 20. 

Western NSW parliamentary secretary Rick Colless will be the convener and was encouraged by the number of motions from the branches and the 110 registered attendees so far.

It’s good to see people interested in what’s going on. - Conference convener Rick Colless

“I don’t know why there’s been more this time, but it’s good to see people interested in what’s going on,” he said. 

He said an expressway over the mountains needed to happen.

“We don’t need studies, we need work on the ground, firstly to secure the route and commence the land acquisitions,” he said. 

Senior Nationals Deputy Premier John Barliaro and Primary Industry Minister Niall Blair will both address the conference, in addition to Parkes mayor Ken Keith on infrastructure and former Rwandan refugee and medical student Manu Ndayisaba on medical services in rural areas.

Mr Colless said as he lived in Orange and it was central to the electorates, therefore he suggested Orange for the conference. 

The Nationals’ Orange branch will also use Saturday’s gathering to nominate its candidate for preselection for the state seat of Orange at the March 2019 election.

Once candidates from the Molong, Parkes and Forbes branches are also selected, preselection will occur in March.

This will give the candidate a year to build momentum against incumbent and Shooters, Fishers and Farmers member Phil Donato.

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