Tathra’s Leanne Atkinson has been announced as Country Labor's candidate for Bega. Leader of the NSW Opposition Luke Foley visited Bega last Friday to make the announcement and begin the campaign ahead of next year’s state election. The Bega electorate has been held by incumbent MP Andrew Constance since 2003. Leanne told The Beagle:
"I’m honoured to be chosen by the Labor party to run as a candidate for the seat of Bega in next year’s State election.
"I am very fortunate to live in the South East and to work in this community. I run my own small business and have raised a family of five in this region. In that time, I have learned a lot about the issues that impact people in this electorate.
"Living in Tathra I have witnessed first hand over the past month the resilience and supportive nature of our community. I saw first-hand the amazing work that our local volunteers and many other individuals in the wider community have done. It reminded me that people need to be at the centre of my campaign. Political parties can talk all they like about one another, but the truth is that unless people are at the heart of what we are doing we are missing the point.
"During this campaign my focus will be on how policies impact our electorate. I will be tough on what I see as political failings, but I think that the public are sick of seeing people in politics talking about themselves and not paying enough attention to the people they seek to represent.
"Before deciding to run as a candidate again, I discussed it with my family, friends and many people in the community I know. They have told me that we, as a community, were not getting our fair share.
"I believe that the voices of this electorate are often being drowned out by those of our city counterparts. Our community deserves better. We deserve to have a member of parliament who will fight for this community in all areas of government.
"I don’t have all the answers to our current problems but on some of the critical issues I know what’s needed. It is essential that a new State Government puts a lot more money into the TAFE system, makes it more accessible for local kids and delivers courses that are relevant to our kids and to those who want to retrain. Underemployment and the youth exodus continue to be issues here.
"We have a great hospital in Bega that Mike Kelly and the local community fought hard to get. I want to now make sure the South East Regional, Pambula, Batemans Bay and Moruya Hospitals are places where staff and patients are well looked after.
"We need to be a lot more innovative and supportive of existing industries like tourism and help to continue to boost the number of visitors to the area.
"We also need to address the cost of living pressures that many people I meet, confront day to day.
"Over the next twelve months, right up until the election, I will spend a lot of time listening to various community organisations, to businesses, to families and to individuals who have concerns about current government policies and actions and what they feel needs to change.
"We need a local member who is not distracted by the problems in Sydney and has the time and energy to properly represent voters in the Bega electorate.