State Election: Power sell-off talk of town

Mark Speakman.
Mark Speakman.

With a margin of 24.8 per cent, the Liberal Party is in no danger of losing the seat of Cronulla, but a strong field of candidates and debate over major concerns has made for an interesting contest. 

Mark Speakman (Liberal) said the most important election matters, statewide and locally, were infrastructure and services.

The electricity privatisation plan had created initial concern in some quarters, he said.

"But I find generally if we explain to people what we propose to do, they are excited about the prospect of an extra $20 billion being injected into infrastructure," he said.

Mr Speakman said this included $300 million for 20 major projects in southern Sydney, $24 million to upgrade the Kingsway and Taren Point Road-Rocky Point Road corridors and partial funding to extend the motorway from Tempe to Kogarah.

Mr Speakman said, as part of normal budget funding, $60 million was being spent on a new emergency department and ward block at Sutherland Hospital and $307 million on upgrading St George Hospital, with both projects to be completed by the end of 2017.

"The Cronulla sewage waste plant had a $46 million upgrade, providing better odour control and reliability," he said.

Mr Speakman said Cronulla Line rail passengers enjoyed extra peak hour services, more express trains and 6000 extra seats across the Illawarra Line in the morning peak.

Peter Scaysbrook (Labor) said electricity privatisation was "far and away" the biggest concern of voters.

Peter Scaysbrook

Peter Scaysbrook

"I have been in a few campaigns and this is the only one in which people walk up to me on the street, raise the issue and plead that it not proceed," he said.

"Cronulla is a fairly conservative electorate, and this plan seems to have touched the most conservative."

Mr Scaysbrook said voters were also concerned about parking and transport, tied in with large-scale development.

"People are finding it takes longer to drive somewhere and, when they arrive, there is nowhere to park," he said.

Mr Scaysbrook said the future of Kurnell peninsula was at at a critical point, and he feared the state government would take planning powers out of the hands of Sutherland Shire Council.

"It is something that will need to proceed fairly carefully, and I don't think it's suitable for the scale of development they are talking about," he said.

Mr Scaysbrook said the government's road announcements were "smoke and mirrors".

"I can't see any stand-out projects that tell me 'that's a problem solved,' " he said.

Mr Scaysbrook said he was enthusiastic about the notion of a business park with high-end industry for the shire.

Reverend George Capsis (Christian Democratic Party - Fred Nile Group) said "development and the sense of congestion" was uppermost in voters' minds.

"There is also a sense that lobby groups are running things behind the scenes," he said.

George Capsis

George Capsis

"Railway services are pretty good, but there is chaos on the roads, and yet they want to keep building things and destroying our way of life.

"I think we need to look at decentralising."

Mr Capsis's campaign material promotes him as "not just another politician", but someone who will fight for "what the voters want, not what the party executive say".

Other priorities he listed include employing more nurses, expanding commuter car parking, improving background checks of childcare centre workers and promoting trade apprenticeships.

Nathan Hunt (The Greens) said government cuts and privatisation of public services by the Liberal government were major problems.

Nathan Hunt.

Nathan Hunt.

The closure of the Cronulla Fisheries Research Centre was one example.

"I am worried about local job losses throughout the shire, the lack of any future planning from the state government and cuts to local health and nursing services," he said.

Mr Hunt said The Greens campaign was also focused on the impact of climate change on the environment, coal seam gas operations, over-development and the impact of corporate donations to political parties.

Christie Mortimer (No Land Tax) represents a group with candidates in most electorates. The group is fighting for "a fairer deal" for investors, and hopes to win an upper house seat.

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