As the Bega electorate prepares to head to the polls on Saturday, we approached the candidates for one final pitch for your vote.
Six candidates will be vying for the role as Member for Bega come March 23rd's NSW election day.
Hoping you make them your first choice on Saturday are the incumbent Liberal Party member Andrew Constance, Country Labor's Leanne Atkinson, Greens Will Douglas, Australian Conservative Josh Shoobridge, Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party Eric "Clyde" Thomas, and Animal Justice Party's Coral Anderson.
We gave each candidate a week's notice with the same request for comment and the same deadline.
Their responses appear below in ballot order for readers to consider.
Andrew Constance, Liberal Party
Only the Berejiklian Liberal government is committed to delivering the infrastructure, services and jobs our community deserves and will ease the pressure on families by reducing the cost of living.
We have seen unprecedented funding flow into our region because of our ability to manage the budget and have no debt. This hasn't happened overnight. It's taken years of hard work to get our state back into a strong position. I am proud that we are now experiencing real, positive change.
Across NSW we are providing 5000 new nurses, 4600 new teachers, 100 new palliative care nurses, 700,000 free TAFE or VET courses, $227million in new funding for TAFE, two mental health workers at all public high schools, after school care for all primary school children by 2021, and $2.4billion to upgrade the Princes Highway and duplicate it between Nowra and the Victorian border.
Locally this means at least 203 extra staff for our Local Health District, including eight doctors and 147 nurses and midwives, new water filtration plants for Bega, Tathra, Brogo and Bermagui, a new Bega Police Station, local sporting infrastructure upgrades at Bega and Pambula, a new TAFE Trade Centre and Connected Learning Centre at Bega, a new basketball and netball facility in Merimbula and rejuvenation of community halls and playgrounds, including a new all abilities playground at Tathra.
We are also sealing local roads including Eden to Burragate, Tantawanglo Mountain Road and West Kameruka Lane. We have also allocated $55million to the Port of Eden and major investments at Twyford Hall Theatre and Merimbula airport. We have also recently opened the new Dignams Creek Bridge.
No matter where you live, you deserve the best facilities and opportunity and I am passionate about continuing to deliver for our region
Will Douglas, Greens
If we want real change, we must vote for it.
I'm proud to represent the Greens and the four pillars which guide all our policies - Ecological Sustainability, Grassroots Democracy, Social Justice, and Peace and Nonviolence.
The Greens don't take corporate donations, freeing us to focus on community needs and our precious environment rather than short-term profits for big corporations.
Our Climate Action Plan reflects what scientists are telling us we must do to stop dangerous climate change. NSW must be powered by 100% renewable energy by 2030 and we'll create a publicly-owned electricity company to foster renewables and stop private power companies hiking up prices.
We can't afford to lose more native forests. These forests are vital stores of carbon, so important in stopping climate change and vital for local tourism and our native species. A just transition for forestry worker into plantations and value-adding soft wood industries is essential for the future of the coast.
We will rebuild our TAFE - 100% of TAFE funding must go to our public TAFE system, not be siphoned off to the private companies rorting our skills training system.
Finally, the Greens want our communities at the centre of decision-making. We want to build a fairer society for everyone and most importantly, protect our precious ecosystems that sustain our communities. We urge you to vote for real change, and for a better future.
Leanne Atkinson, Country Labor
Being elected Member for Bega, for me, is about listening to, understanding and fighting for the things that matter to the community I love. It's about pushing hard for policies that will better the lives of people in the Bega electorate.
Over the past six months I have listened to thousands of people, in community forums, at local markets, in social media exchanges and at kitchen-table conversations.
What I've learned is that people care most about better healthcare, quality education, rebuilding our battered TAFE system, lowering the cost of living, reliable clean energy and tackling climate change.
That's why Labor under Michael Daley is:
Building a new hospital in the Eurobodalla; providing more than 5000 nurses for the state; and making sure they have a manageable workload;
Building new schools, hiring 5000 extra teachers, air-conditioning all NSW schools and getting rid of ageing demountables;
Making TAFE free for 600,000 students in industries with skills shortages;
Ensuring 50% of jobs on large government projects are for local people;
Helping 500,000 homes install rooftop solar systems; and setting a 50% renewable energy target by 2030
Bega deserves a local MP that lives in and cares about the electorate and who supports policies that will have a real impact on our future, especially for our young people.
It's better to support a party that will invest in health, education, and clean, cheaper energy to tackle climate change than spending $2.2billion on rebuilding perfectly adequate sports stadium.
Joshua Shoobridge, Australian Conservatives
I am a husband and a father, I work in the disability field, I am a member of numerous community groups and I want the best opportunities for everyone to prosper and pursue happiness.
My platform is simple, I want smaller government, personal freedom and government accountability. I want to see common sense brought back into politics and away from the endless arguments, where ideology won't allow compromise.
I am standing up for the land rights of farmers and property owners. The simplification and reform into how bushfire mitigation is carried out. Also, most importantly making fellow politicians accountable for their performance.
All too often we discuss our differing opinions and we get stuck in this loop of worst versus worst, it becomes inefficient and the people who suffer are the citizens. I will never pretend to know something I don't, I will seek and listen to the facts and all sides of the issues. Then use that information to formulate a solution.
When we disagree we should look at it with a best versus best mindset and leave room to admit our own flaws and see the shared goals ahead. Only together will we be able end the era of stagnation and hatred.
We need to trust our elected officials again, let me be the man you can trust.
Coral Anderson, Animal Justice Party
Priorities for the Animal Justice Party include ending logging in our native forests, banning puppy farming, banning the use of 1080 poison, and banning all forms of intensive animal production, with a special focus on the battery cage.
One particular local animal cruelty concern is the annual Narooma HuntFest, an annual "family festival", where firearms can be purchased and attendees are encouraged to hunt as a form of recreation. Recreational hunting is a bloodsport which has no place in 21st Century society. It should join all the other bloodsports that are already banned under sections 18-21 of the NSW Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. The Animal Justice Party aims to amend the Act to include a blanket ban on hunting animals for sport.
There are other reasons for hunting which we oppose on both ethical and scientific grounds, such as 'management' killing of alleged 'pests', and commercial kangaroo shooting. Those killings are commercially motivated, and banning them will require detailed exposure of the flaws in the reasoning which currently allows them.
The AJP will work with any government that is committed to ending all the cruelty inflicted on animals by our society. Animal suffering is not 'left' or 'right' - it's simply wrong and when we know better, we simply must do better.
Clyde Thomas, Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party
A Eurobodalla hospital is long overdue and should not be up to pork barrelling for votes, but a standard based on necessity. It should be fully funded irrespective of who is in power.
I also want to see increased funding for 4-1 patient nurse ratio at the Bega hospital, increased funding for palliative care and out-patient access, drug and alcohol detoxification and rehabilitation facilities to be made available, and funding to provide adequate rehabilitation for the aged to help them stay in their homes.
Regarding the environment, the government should fund fire prevention. Make our towns, villages, highways and escape routes fire safe, with substantial firebreaks creating a fire-safe town common. Remove E-zones and re-evaluate tree preservation orders to allow sensible and practical fire prevention. No more Tathras.
We need a strategy to return forests to pre-colonisation open and wet sclerophyll via strategic forest thinning and prescribed cultural burns. This will employ not only public servants, NPWS and Forestry but will involve private contractors to remove and utilise this conservative, organic, renewable resource. Billions of dollars are being spent on border security and police defending our home, and yet unpaid volunteers are left to defend inevitable mega fires.
Upgrade our existing treatment plant with a focus on exfiltration and redirect this resource to be utilised by farms, golf courses and other rural amenities - at around the same cost as filtering through sand dunes and pumping out to sea.