Psst, get on the bus
By DARREN COYNE
JOHN Sutton of Tomewin yesterday highjacked what was meant to be a cosy joint-media conference by NSW premier Morris Iemma and Queens-land premier Peter Beattie.
Amid a veil of secrecy the two premiers had arranged to meet at an isolated border crossing near Tomewin to announce greater co-operation between Queensland and NSW on issues such as health, transport and policing.
Perhaps fearing a highjacking by Nationals candidate Geoff Provest and his supporters, the destination of the premiers' meeting was kept hush hush up to the last minute.
The Daily News was informed of Mr Iemma's visit the previous evening around 8pm and was told we could join metropolitan journalists on a bus to be transported to a secret location.
Not even Tweed MP Neville Newell knew where the meeting would take place.
"I got told to follow the bus (containing metropolitan media)," Mr Newell admitted when the Daily News rang early yesterday to find out the destination.
So, along with other local news crews, we also followed the bus.
As the large media contingent set up their equipment, the premiers finally arrived and shook hands over a cattle grid separating the two states.
After the obligatory jokes about football from Mr Beattie, the pair got down to the business of signing a Memorandum of Understanding about cross-border issues.
Together they dodged tricky questions about the loss of the Casino-to- Murwillumbah rail line, struggling health services, Mr Newell's very small margin, policing numbers and the redistribution of GST revenue.
"There's an election, so today I have the same opinions as Morris," Mr Beattie admitted with a laugh.
Then Mr Sutton arrived and highjacked the show.
He told Mr Iemma and Mr Beattie that he had tried for years to get electricity connected to his property but had been fobbed off by energy pro-viders on both sides of the border.
He told the states' leaders that he had lived on the NSW side of the border for 28 years but had been told by NSW energy suppliers that it was too difficult to connect his home to the grid. 'Try Queensland', he was told.
He said Queensland had also refused to help.
Mr Sutton said his home was powered by solar electricity despite it being located just 400 metres from a three-phase supply of electricity.
Both Mr Iemma and Mr Beattie almost fell over themselves to assure Mr Sutton that they would investi- gate the situation.
Nationals candidate Geoff Provest later said he was disappointed that Mr Iemma had not taken time to meet with any locals.
"I'm sure there are many people and community groups with valid concerns who would have enjoyed the opportunity to talk with Premier Iemma about various issues," Mr Provest said.
Well, that's not entirely true.
At least Mr Sutton managed to get his point across to both premiers.
Now only time will tell whether either can actually deliver him an electricity supply.