Name: Stephen (Steve) Mears
Political party: NSW Country Labor
Where do you live? Tamworth
What do you do for a living? Industrial advocate and workplace organiser
How long have you lived in the Tamworth electorate? 21 years
What is the best part of living in the Tamworth electorate? The people, the diversity of each town in the electorate and the great blend of town and rural living.
Why are you running for the state seat of Tamworth? To listen to and represent all the people in the electorate and work with them on the issues that concern them the most. Increase policing numbers, health and hospital staff to provide first class care. Raising educational standards, incomes and rebuild communities.
In your opinion, what are the most pressing issues facing the Tamworth electorate?
Water management and/or retention. Poor educational outcomes, low incomes, unemployment and under employment. Loss of services and jobs. Lack of promised infrastructure spending. Poor roads development and maintenance. Lack of funding for domestic violence support and advocacy. Understaffing in police, health care, mental health support and TAFE. Drugs.
What are your key election promises?
Additional police, a second police station and infrastructure spending. Mandated nurse to patient ratios in hospitals and mental health facilities. Consult on, review and action water infrastructure projects across the electorate from a $1 billion Safe Water Fund. Fully fund public schools. Provide greater domestic violence support. Reduce crime.
What is your plan for Tamworth's long-term water security?
Water storages need increasing and/or previously examined dams such as the Aspley/McDonald river dam needs reviewing and if sound, construction. Long term development of water transference projects must be front and centre of future water security across the electorate.
What is your plan to improve the electorate's health services?
Seek a commitment from Labor to fund the upgrade of Gunnedah Hospital, review the electorates Multi-Purpose Services and upgrade them over the mid-term. Restore a government-funded safety-net disability services in NSW, and funding disability advocacy services in perpetuity. Seek funding to upgrade or rebuild Banksia Mental Health facility.
If elected, will you support mandated nurse-to-patient ratios for hospitals, including Multi-Purpose Services such as Manilla?
NSW Labor and I have guaranteed to mandate nurse to patient ratios in regional hospitals - equivalent to those in the cities - this includes in mental health facilities. I have spoken to nurses in our Multi-Purpose Services and sent their required ratios to the shadow ministers involved and will continue the fight if no agreed position is guaranteed before the election.
What are your key policies relating to the drought and drought recovery?
Create a new $1 billion water fund to build and upgrade water infrastructure across NSW. Provide an additional $50 million in funding to help fight weeds and pests post drought. Establish a public inquiry into the distribution of FAG grants to local councils. Hold a root and branch independent review of Local Land Services.
What are your key environmental policies?
Fifty per cent renewable energy target by 2030. Ensure threatened natural parks and waterways are safeguarded for the future. Deliver a total of nine gigawatts of renewable energy by 2030. Protect our state's wilderness areas. Invest $32.5 million to support Landcare, Bushcare, Rivercare groups in NSW.
If elected, would you be willing to speak and vote against your party's policies if it would harm the electorate, or if it was clear that the majority of residents held a contrary belief?
I would certainly be willing to speak out against any policy that would adversely affect the Tamworth electorate and vote against such policy in caucus. I would, instead of sending out glossy brochures, use my allowances to send out communications to engage the electorate in their views.
What is your message to the voters?
I am who you see and speak to. I always try to be honest with everyone I engage with and try not to tell people what I think they want to hear just to gain votes. I am strong and forthright and will fight for and defend all those in the electorate and endeavour to make their lives better. Health, education, safety, the environment and community engagement are my primary goals. I want everyone in the electorate to have the opportunity to be the best they can be and will try to ensure no-one is left behind.