N. Rivers minister mooted



THE Northern Rivers will get its own NSW government minister if Premier Bob Carr backs a proposal being prepared by the region's mayors.

A spokesman for Mr Carr said the Premier would consider appointing a minister to the region if the mayors put a written proposal to the government outlining the reasons for wanting one and the responsibilities the portfolio should carry.

Northern Rivers mayors have unanimously backed the idea, saying it would give the region "a seat at the table" in state cabinet.

It is a model already used at Wollongong, Newcastle and on the Central Coast, where regional ministers have long been in place.

Wollongong Lord Mayor Alex Darling said having David Campbell, also the Minister for Small Business and Regional Development, as Minister for Illawarra made it easy to stay in face-to-face contact with other ministers and the Premier.

Northern Rivers Regional Organis- ation of Councils head and Kyogle mayor Ernie Bennett raised the idea of a Northern Rivers minister on Monday.

After Mr Carr's spokesman suggested the Premier would be open to the plan, Cr Bennett said he would write to Mr Carr asking for more details before starting work on a "full-blown proposal". ????????- ALEX EASTON



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