North Coast ?ignored

By DARREN COYNE

THE re-elected NSW Labor government has been accused of ignoring the Tweed and the North Coast by not appointing a special minister for the region.

Ballina MP Don Page, the Nationals shadow minister for the North Coast, said despite a large swing against Labor in the March 24 poll which resulted in National candidate Geoff Provest winning the Tweed electorate, Premier Morris Iemma was ignoring the area.

"In all North Coast seats there were significant swings away from Labor to the Nationals, with a 5.1 per cent swing in Ballina, 7.1 per cent in Tweed, 2.3 per cent in Lismore, 5.6 per cent in Coffs Harbour, and 6.5 per cent in the Clarence," Mr Page said.

"The Labor government has ministers for the Illawarra, the Hunter, the Central Coast, Redfern-Waterloo and Western Sydney, yet still the North Coast is overlooked despite voters on the North Coast sending Labor a clear message at election time."

During the election campaign, the Premier visited the Tweed twice and released his plan for the North Coast.

At a cross-border meeting with Queensland premier Peter Beattie, Mr Iemma said the Tweed warranted special attention.

"This is one of NSW's fastest-growing regions and its circumstances are unique," Mr Iemma said.

"That's why we have to make sure we're delivering services that families rely on, and in the most efficient and practical way. Despite those statements during the election campaign, a spokesperson for the Premier yesterday dismissed Mr Page's call, saying "no doubt every community thinks it is important".

"The Premier is the premier for all of NSW and is committed to delivering on promises according to the North Coast Plan," she said. "There wasn't a minister for the North Coast prior to the election, and at this stage we've got ministers for certain areas, but not that area.

"What's going to connect more with the people of the North Coast is to deliver on promises by expanding and enhancing services regardless of who the representatives in the area are."



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