GO OUT TO THE PEOPLE
By ED SOUTHORN
NSW Premier Morris Iemma has been challenged to "meet the people" rather than perform at stage-managed events during today's last-ditch visit to the Tweed.
With the Tweed being the most marginal Labor held seat in the state Mr Iemma will make a flying visit today to help shore up Neville Newell's bid for re-election.
There will be no new funding promises from the Premier for the Tweed today, but there will be some "non financial" policy announcements.
"The Tweed is the government's most marginal seat and Mr Iemma wants all voters to know he has heard them loud and clear," a spokesman for the Premier said yesterday.
"The community wants services to be delivered better and Mr Iemma wants to reinforce that he has heard and understood that."
The Premier's people will be hoping for a less-eventful day on the Tweed campaign trail after a frightening run-in when he was mobbed by anti-coal protesters in Newcastle yesterday.
Despite this ordeal National Party candidate Geoff Provest ? Mr Newell's greatest threat ? does not want to see the Premier go into his shell when he visits the Tweed.
Mr Provest has called on Mr Iemma to meet patients waiting in hospital corridors and drivers worried about gridlock and Sexton Hill fatalities.
Mr Provest suggested it was time Morris Iemma, on his second visit to the Tweed during the state election campaign, met local residents and community volunteers, instead of holding stage-managed photo opportunities.
"It is always an honour to get a visit from our state Premier, but I trust he won't invoke 'security reasons' to avoid meeting locals this time," Mr Provest said.
Mr Newell said he could understand why Mr Provest wanted to meet the Premier during today's Tweed visit.
"With a leader like Peter Debnam I can understand Geoff Provest wanting to follow Morris Iemma about," Mr Newell said.
"Peter Debnam hasn't even visited the Tweed during the formal campaign to support his hapless 'promises promises' candidate."
"Morris Iemma is coming here to ask our community for their support to get back to work, and to see all our plans through, including 30 extra beds at Tweed Hospital, a new trade school at Kingscliff and a new police mobile command unit for the Tweed Coast."
Mr Provest said the Tweed Community Highway Action Group wanted the Premier to have another look at the Option C upgrade of Sexton Hill, "a far more resident-friendly solution than the Labor alternative, which benefits Brisbane-Sydney freight traffic ahead of locals".
He indicated Tweed police also would like to talk with Mr Iemma.
"Police are so desperate for extra officers they had to threaten strike action last week, and they would like to know why the bulk of academy graduates are posted to Sydney," Mr Provest said.
"The Save Jack Evans Boat Harbour and Parklands Committee would like Mr Iemma to reconsider his local MP's plan to privatise the publicly-owned boat harbour.
"And TOOT, the local train lobby group, is very keen to get a commitment from the Premier to restore the train service his government abolished."
He also encouraged the Premier to visit The Tweed Hospital so he could "talk to patients waiting 48 hours in corridors because Labor short-changed the hospital on ward beds".