Deja vu ... another premier

NORTH Coast National Party MPs say they would have preferred a state election rather than yet another change of the NSW premiership – but have settled for something less.

They have immediately invited Kristina Keneally, the fourth new Labor Party premier of the state in four years, to visit the region as soon as possible.

But they fear a planned visit by Mrs Keneally next Wednesday – which she would have conducted in her previous role as Planning Minister – has already been scrapped.

“We’ve already forwarded a letter inviting her up here to the North Coast,” said National Party MP for Tweed Geoff Provest yesterday.

“She was due to come up on December 9 as Planning Minister, but we don’t expect that to happen now. Myself and my other National Party colleagues have invited her up here to see first-hand the health issues, planning issues, education and law-and-order issues we have.”

Mr Provest said however he felt a little “despondent” at yet another change in the government’s leadership and yet more promises that problems would be fixed.

“We’ve had four premiers in the spate of four years and I’ve lost track of the number of ministers we’ve had,” Mr Provest said.

“While they are focused on this factional warfare they are not getting on with the real job.

“In the next 72 hours we will have new ministers and we have to start again.

“We’ve seen before with new ministers it takes a while before they can get up to speed.

“I get a little bit despondent, because we keep having this changing of the guard. It’s very much like Nero fiddling while Rome burns.”

Lismore MP Thomas George, whose electorate covers Murwillumbah and most rural parts of the Tweed, was part of the joint invitation to Mrs Keneally but could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Mrs Keneally was yesterday adopting an upbeat stance to her premiership, saying there was a lot to be positive about the current government.

“There’s much to be proud of,” she told a media conference in Sydney.

“In NSW our Year 3 and Year 5 students are producing literacy and numeracy results among the best in the nation.

“Our emergency room departments are judged to be among the best in the nation.

“We are delivering a public transport system which has seen our trains run on time 95 per cent. Our next challenge in public transport is to enlarge it and expand it.”

Mrs Keneally was sworn in as NSW’s first female premier when she took an oath of office before governor Marie Bashir at Sydney’s Government House about 1pm yesterday, accompanied by her husband Ben and their two sons.

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