Candidates for the Heffron state by-election have issued last-minute pitches to voters ahead of the poll, which will see the electorate choose a replacement for its former Member, Kristina Keneally.
Approximately 55,000 people will vote in this Saturday’s plebiscite, which was sparked by former Labor leader Ms Keneally’s sudden resignation in June. Four candidates will be listed on the ballot paper, representing the Australian Democrats, the Christian Democratic Party (CDP), the Greens and Labor.
The by-election is something of a litmus test for the Democrats, who are hoping to revitalise their electoral fortunes with their candidate, Drew Simmons. Mr Simmons said he was going to the poll focused on four main issues.
“Standing up against coal seam gas mining in the electorate, expanding childcare services, addressing, traffic problems and ensuring transparency in planning decisions are my main priorities,” he said.
“These issues weren’t managed properly by our previous Member so there’s an urgent need for them to be addressed by a strong, proactive candidate who will go into bat for our community.”
CDP candidate Robyn Peebles said she was standing as a counterpoint to the “left wing” tendencies of her three opponents, particularly on the issue of samesex marriage.
“Labor, the Greens and the Australian Democrats have left wing and permissive policies in favour of same-sex marriage. I am standing for marriage between a male and a female, and to oppose same-sex marriage for homosexuals and lesbians,” she said.
Greens candidate Dr Mehreen Faruqi zeroed in on community and planning issues in her pitch to the electorate.
“Planning is one of the really big issues facing our community,” she said.
“Heffron is growing very rapidly and we need to plan for more schools, transport, childcare centres and public transport.
“The Greens have got really good, concrete plans on these issues,” said Dr Faruqi, who espoused a north-south light rail line along Anzac Parade, and an east-west line connecting the Eastern Suburbs with the Inner West.
Dr Faruqi said Labor candidate Ron Hoenig was “an old party stalwart who lacks a modern vision for Heffron and will not adequately consult with the community” – a claim perhaps supported by the fact that Mr Hoenig did not respond to calls and emails from City News.
The Liberal Party will not run a candidate in the Heffron byelection, preferring to concentrate on the upcoming Sydney byelection, where Shayne Mallard will represent the party.