When the NSW Labor shadow cabinet held a meeting at the Snowy Valleys Council in Tumut on Tuesday, they made it clear they weren’t just here for a meeting, with the 25 shadow ministers separating out to visit businesses and stakeholders across the region.
NSW Labor Leader Jodi McKay said that what they wanted was “for our shadow ministers not only to hear from council, but to see for themselves.”
The politicians visited Tumut, Adelong, Batlow, Talbingo and Tumbarumba on Tuesday and Wednesday, and visited Gundagai and Wagga Wagga the day before on Monday.
“This is very much about making sure the local community here, that has gone through so much in terms of both droughts and fires, knows that we are there supporting them,” Ms McKay said.
After the shadow cabinet meeting Ms McKay was joined by three other shadow ministers, Snowy Valleys Council Mayor James Hayes and Member for Wagga Wagga Dr Joe McGirr on a visit to Batlow where they toured orchards and held a community meeting at the Batlow RSL. Ms McKay also visited Adelong Rural Fire Brigade and met with Captain Nigel Cribb.
Sophie Cotsis, Shadow Minister for Better Public Services, and Tara Moriarty, Shadow Minister for Mental Health, also visited Adelong to meet with BlazeAid volunteers.
Snowy Valleys Deputy Mayor John Larter, Riverina Highlands RFS District Manager Jon Gregory, Air Base Manager Steve Carter and Tumut Aero Club secretary Rod Blundell accompanied six shadow ministers to Tumut Airport where they discussed the case for substantial upgrades to the airport.
Shadow Minister for Health Ryan Park met with local doctors, nurses and service providers, including Kerrie Peacock from the Bush Chemist. He also met with the crew at Tumut Regional Family Services with Shadow Minister for Family and Community Services Penny Sharpe, and Shadow Minister for Women and the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence Trish Doyle, to discuss their homelessness service.
Shadow Minister for Education Prue Car took time to speak with local students, teachers and principals, and went with Shadow Minister for Early Childhood Learning Jodie Harrison to visit Tumut Community Preschool.
Kate Washington, Shadow Minister for Environment and Heritage, visited the Riverina Highlands Landcare nursery in Tumut on Tuesday and met with WIRES wildlife carers in Talbingo on Wednesday. She said that “restoring our environment is a critical step on our road to recovery.”
Deputy Leader of the Opposition Yasmin Catley also visited Talbingo where she was taken out for dinner by locals and stayed overnight at the Talbingo Caravan Park.
In Tumbaruma, Shadow Minister for Natural Resources Paul Scully visited Hyne Mill, and Shadow Minister for Veterans Greg Warren met with Vietnam veteran and Tumbarumba RSL Sub Branch treasurer Barry, along with Tony, John and Julie from Riverina JO.
Shadow Minister for Consumer Protection Julia Finn met with trainers from the Tumbarumba Turf Club, and later visited Johansen Wines with Mr Warren.
Shadow Cabinet Secretary Peter Primrose got involved in the #emptyesky campaign, encouraging Australian’s to visit fire-affected towns and buy local produce, by posting a photo of the cider he had bought.
Dr McGirr was very happy to see the shadow ministers not just hold a meeting in Tumut, but also immerse themselves in the community.
“Not only have they had a briefing from the council, but they are actually on the ground, boots on the ground, getting out and meeting with people and going out in to the communities and actually hearing first-hand the challenges that they’ll be facing,” he said.