Ready to serve
By ED SOUTHORN
HONOURED, thankful and ready to work hard for all - that's the message from new Richmond MP, Labor's Justine Elliot.
The first woman to represent Richmond, she will be in Canberra over the next few days for a new MP's induction course and to meet her parliamentary colleagues.
Labor sources yesterday claimed Ms Elliot at present was factionally unaligned. This may present a challenge as she seeks to win support among Labor MPs for Richmond issues, but it could also assist her to gain cross- facfactional support among the
Ms Elliot, who lives at Fingal, signalled she would get involved in the Tweed's hotly argued coastal development debate.
She said she believed strongly in protecting the coastline from "inappropriate development".
"I've always believed we need appropriate development along our coastline, not another Gold Coast," she said.
"I will be making sure there is a real effort to find solutions to the problem of overdevelopment.
"The coast is the basis of our unique lifestyle, we can't sit by and watch as it is slowly destroyed."
Ms Elliot said she was "absolutely confident" she would be an effective MP, denying claims her political influence could be blunted because Labor was in opposition.
She said she would urge the Government to co-locate an after-hours GP clinic, promised by both Labor and the Coalition, at The Tweed Hospital.
The Coalition wants doctors to run the after-hours clinic separate from the hospital at Tweed Heads, but Labor argues it should be co-located to ensure safety for patients, staff and doctors and to ease demand for the hospital's emergency department.
Ms Elliot said she would urge Prime Minister John Howard to match Labor's promised $150 million for the Murwillumbah-to- Casino train line, axed by the NSW Government.
Asked if she might be able to improve relations as the new Federal MP with the NSW Government, Ms Elliot said: "I will work with all levels of government regardless of the political party.
"There will be no more buck-passing, we need to get things done around here."
Ms Elliot acknowledged Greens preferences helped her to victory, but she said preferences were always important in Richmond and people voting for minor parties mostly knew where their preferences were going.
"I'd like to thank Larry Anthony for the contribution he's made as a local MP and minister and on behalf of all residents I wish him and his family all the best for the future.
"I don't know if we've seen the last of him politically."