New leader rolled into town

The freshly minted Labor leader, Michael Daley, visited Monaro last week on the second day of his first regional trip as Leader of the Opposition in NSW.

It is just over a fortnight since he was chosen as the new Labor leader.

Mr Daley took the opportunity to travel to the regions, as parliament had risen, to prepare for an expected tough election ahead. 

Shock state election results in Victoria, and general discontent over the ongoing factionalism in federal politics, has left the outcome of the next NSW state election an open race.

The NSW election is scheduled for March 23 and will likely be a referendum on both Labor in opposition, which lost a leader to scandal, and the Berejiklian Government’s record.

Independents are already lining up to declare for Monaro and other regional seats.

With just four months to go, and three months out from the caretaker period, Mr Daley is seeking to pitch his side as better managers on big ticket items like major infrastructure projects.

Mr Daley is hoping the reported $10 billion on city based projects like WestConnex, the Sydney Gateway and light rail will put off region voters in marginal seats like Monaro.

“No one in rural or regional wants these stadiums,” Mr Daley said.

“The overwhelming majority of people in Monaro will never walk into these stadiums yet they are being asked to foot the bill for the demolition and rebuild. It is not fair and I won’t have a bar of it. 

“This is $2.5 billion that will not be spent on air-conditioning in schools, neo natal care in hospitals or getting the schools maintenance backlog down because it is being spent on stadiums.

“I know that people in rural and regional NSW want to see a government that takes real action on jobs, healthcare and infrastructure and funds schools and hospitals in regional NSW, not on Sydney stadiums.

Labor candidate for Monaro, Bryce Wilson reiterated the point, saying, “People in Monaro and throughout rural and regional NSW want a government that funds schools and hospitals.”

Labor is pitching regional voters a set of family focused policies.

Mr Daley is a father of four and says state governments can and should do what they can to help families balance their household budgets. 

Mr Daley says he hopes family friendly policies will entice regional voters across to a state Labor party that has at times proven to be its own worst enemy. 

This includes a commitment to waiving the $58 fee for NSW birth certificates.

​If elected next March, a Daley Labor government promised to offer NSW residents one free standard birth certificate for newborns.

New Labor leader Michael Daley (right) and Country Labor candidate for Monaro Bryce Wilson (left). Photo supplied.

New Labor leader Michael Daley (right) and Country Labor candidate for Monaro Bryce Wilson (left). Photo supplied.

The policy will cost $16.8 million over forward estimates. 

The Parliamentary Budget Office forecasts 99,000 birth registrations for 2019 to 2020 period alone.

Mr Wilson said this policy would benefit young families in growing suburbs along the ACT border.

“This is a good but simple step, with so many young families in the area,” he said.

“Our area is a growing one. We have many new families in places [such as] Googong and Queanbeyan.

“We have to make the start of having a family as lost cost as possible.”

Mr Daley said that ditching the fee would “help families of newborn children defray a small cost at one of the most costly and intense times of their lives. 

“Parents have big expenses prams, cots, clothes, nappies and car seats for starters.

“I know that when Christina and I had our little ones, every dollar and cent helped.

​Mr Daley has also formally re-committed to delivering nurse to patient ratios and more security staff at the Queanbeyan hospital.

He also committed to 250 extra security staff with additional powers will be placed in NSW hospitals to protect staff, patients and families.

Mr Daley said he would “employ hundreds more nurses in ‘B’ and ‘C’ group hospitals across NSW.

“This will improve patient care in about 60 separate hospitals; most of them in suburban and regional NSW.

“It builds on Labor’s earlier announcement of nurse to patient ratios in emergency departments and paediatric wards.”

Mr Daley said he wanted to “work with doctors, nurses and health and hospital workers to improve the health and hospital system in NSW”.

“Nurses are overworked and under resourced due to a lack of support from the Berejiklian Government.

“Numerous studies show that higher nurse to patient ratios save lives as there is a clear link between higher staff levels and improved outcomes for patients.

“Nurse to patient ratios reduce errors, improve the amount of time each nurse can spend in patient care, create better workplaces and reduce stress,” Mr Daley said.