Fraser takes second run
THE Nationals are confident of taking the fight to Labor after overwhelmingly endorsing Tweed fast food businessman and Tweed Business Chamber head Matthew Fraser as their candidate for Richmond.
Party members selected Mr Fraser ahead of Tweed Shire Councillor Carolyn Byrne by a convincing margin of 121 votes to 26, during a preselection vote at Ocean Shores on Saturday.
This will be Mr Fraser’s second run against Nunderi-based sitting MP Justine Elliot, who has held the seat for Labor since 2004.
It is set to be a tight race to the finish. Mr Fraser dramatically reduced Mrs Elliot’s margin at the 2013 poll, securing 3491 more primary votes and forcing the Labor MP to rely on Greens preferences to secure the seat.
A recent boundary redistribution plays even more favourably into the Nationals’ hands, with the Greens-leaning town of Nimbin lost to the Page electorate and replaced by the more conservative area of Ballina.
Nationals Federal president Larry Anthony, who held the seat before Mrs Elliot, said the party was more confident of winning Richmond this time.
“I think Matthew has got that experience now. He’s certainly demonstrated total commitment,” Mr Anthony said.
“With the new boundary changes Richmond is certainly a seat that is very marginal and is in play.”
Mr Fraser, who owns a Hungry Jacks restaurant at Tweed Heads South and heads the Tweed Business Chamber, said despite the redistribution, he would still be the underdog.
“I’m really still the underdog going in. Justine has been warming the seat for over a decade,” Mr Fraser said.
“I’ll give credit where it’s due, she is definitely a brilliant career politician.”
If elected, Mr Fraser said he wanted to secure more education and health funding and capitalise on the outdoor economy of the region. He flagged an expansion to the high performance surf centre at Casuarina to enable an elite sports science training facility, and more announcements as the elections draws closer.
“Other sports we can capitalise on include BMX, mountain biking, triathlons, and motor cross,” Mr Fraser said.
“This is the type of thing people are telling me they want.”
Mr Fraser shut down debate over GST and coal seam gas mining, saying Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had ruled the GST out, while “there is still no CSG in Richmond”.
Mr Anthony denied considering running himself, despite party insiders confirming it in January. No election date has yet been set.