26 March 2023

Labor pledges to stand by its commitments to the bush if elected

| Chris Roe
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Keryn Foley

Keryn Foley feels that voters are ready for a change. Photo: Chris Roe.

Labor’s candidate for Wagga Wagga has confirmed that her party’s commitments to the region are not contingent on her ability to wrest the seat from Independent Dr Joe McGirr.

Keryn Foley has made several local commitments in the past fortnight that she said would be upheld if Chris Minns forms government after Saturday’s poll.

“Those commitments will hold if Labor wins the election, so we will be able to follow up on those local commitments,” she said during a brief break from a busy week of meeting voters and handing out how-to-vote cards at pre-polling.

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The biggest announcement so far was for almost $12 million in emergency road repairs across the electorate on top of existing pothole money and the promise to reclassify 15,000km of council roads, something the Coalition has stalled on.

Smaller and more specific local promises include $50,000 for improved accessibility throughout Wagga’s footpath network, $35,000 for crossing refuges and $205,000 for ‘Ignite’ programs designed to improve education and play for young people.

Ms Foley said her first experience on the front lines of state politics had been “eye-opening”.

“It’s a steep learning curve and it’s been amazing in terms of spending time with the shadow ministers that have come here to Wagga and witnessing how much knowledge they need to have across their portfolios and just the kind of nonstop work they do,” she said.

“I have a lot of respect for people that are doing the job, it’s been a really, really interesting time.”


Here’s what Wagga voters will face when they cast their ballot. Photo: Shri Gayathirie Rajen.

While it’s expected to be tight, Labor is widely tipped to edge out the Dominic Perrottet led Coalition and form a minority government with the help of the Greens and Independents.

Ms Foley recognises the challenge locally in contesting a traditionally conservative seat but said that she has felt the tide turning.

“I feel that currently we are facing a lot of stresses and cost of living pressures and it is changing people’s viewpoints,” she said.

“We are seeing poor policies and inaction contributing to the stress and complex problems need really fresh thinking. And I think that’s what Labor is offering.”

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Regardless, Labor faces an uphill battle for hearts and minds in the regions where there is a perception that metropolitan concerns take precedence and environmental considerations are placed ahead of agriculture. They have also said that they will axe the recently established regional health portfolio.

Ms Foley said that she had received a mostly positive reception as she travelled the electorate.

“On a one-on-one basis, when I am meeting and talking to people, and I’m listening to what their stresses are and I do feel that they are impressed with Labor’s plan,” she said.

“We want to make regional Australia livable. We want to have good roads, we want to have the infrastructure, we need to support that.”

With the campaign marathon almost at the finish line, Ms Foley is hoping for sunny weather and a respectful celebration of the freedoms we enjoy.

“I hope everyone has a great day on election day, it’s a great privilege to be able to vote and I do love that we live in a democracy that respects that we have our vote and can choose how we want to go forward.”

When it comes to her preference for the traditional democracy sausage, Ms Foley keeps it simple.

“Sauce on top, eat it from one end to the other and try and keep it horizontal so that the sauce doesn’t run off,” she says with a laugh.

Pre-polling is open now ahead of Saturday’s election and you can find your nearest centre here.

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