Labor candidate David Ewings officially launches New England byelection campaign in Tamworth

LABOR officially launched its New England by-election campaign in Tamworth on Sunday, as party candidate David Ewings celebrated his 41st birthday.

The former coal worker, who received just seven per cent of the vote when he contested the same seat in 2016, detailed his fight for fair healthcare, education and penalty rates at the launch, backed by the “unflappable support” of shadow agriculture minister and Hunter MP Joel Fitzgibbon. 

In a room full of Labor supporters from all corners of the state in Joe Maguires Pub in Tamworth on Sunday, Mr Ewings vowed to prioritise healthcare for the electorate, noting New England has some of the lowest bulk-billing rates in the country. 

“Why do the Nationals roll over and accept it here?,” he asked during his official address.

“People living in the region should have better access to health services.”

Scone-based Mr Ewings, who was educated at a public school, before completing courses at both TAFE and university, questioned why university fees continued to sky-rocket. 

“Barnaby Joyce voted to remove penalty rates for more than 11,000 people in this electorate, missing out on spending time with kids on the weekend or a family member’s birthday because you’ve got to go to work and are not adequately getting paid,” Mr Ewings said.

“Barnaby Joyce and Malcolm Turnbull are out of touch.”

Mr Ewings thanked the life-long Labor supporters who rolled out for the party’s official launch date.

“I think we’re the oldest-operating Labor party in the world,” he said.

“More than that, we’re a social movement.

“We believe in a fair go, in inclusiveness, in equality of poprtuntiy and togetherness. 

“We strive for a better future for everybody.

“We must continue to fight for a better tomorrow, and bring people in, and elevate them.”

The official launch of Labor’s campaign coincided with Mr Ewing’s birthday.

Barnaby Joyce hit back at Labor’s suggestion that the Nationals were ignoring healthcare and education in the electorate.

“The Nationals have spent more on local health and education than ever before and we will continue to find ways to improve those areas,” Mr Joyce said.

“Last election Labor claimed I was pork-barreling and this one I am underdelivering.

“Can they at least get their own story straight?”