Labor Party preselection under way

Belinda Neal a preselection candidate for ALP?Belinda Neal , former Robertson MP.

Australian Labor Party preselection is under way for the Federal seat of Robertson to choose the ALP candidate who will run against sitting Liberal MP, Ms Lucy Wicks.

Labor NSW has confirmed that two candidates are running for preselection. They are former member for Robertson, Ms Belinda Neal and Ms Anne Charlton, who currently works for NSW Senator Ms Deborah O’Neill.

Mr David Abrahams had also intended to run and had drafted a policy on full employment for the Central Coast. However, Mr Abrahams, the immediate past chair of Regional Development Australia Central Coast and past chair of, said on Tuesday, December 1 that his nomination had been ruled invalid.

“I have just been informed that my preselection nomination was ruled invalid due to a small administrative anomaly,” Mr Abrahams said. “In the interests of unity and clarity I will now withdraw from the Robertson preselection race rather than appeal this matter,” he said. “I sincerely apologise to my local supporters and family.

“I hope that some of the policy discussions and debates that we’ve had contribute to good outcomes. “I sincerely wish the remaining candidates well and trust they go on to represent the hopes and aspirations of the residents on the Central Coast,” he said.

Mr Van Davy from Pearl Beach has also nominated with Labor NSW to stand as a preselection candidate. As of the afternoon of Tuesday, December 1, he had not received acknowledgement of his nomination from Labor NSW.

Mr Davy said he would leave it a few more days before contacting Labor NSW to ask for acknowledgement that he is a preselection candidate.

“I will appeal if I don’t get an answer and I will call for the ballot to be reopened,” he said. Ms Belinda Neal said she is a long-time resident of the Central Coast. Ms Neal said she was a community activist, former Gosford councillor and the only Labor candidate ever to have successfully won the seat of Robertson from a sitting Liberal member.

Ms Neal said that she defeated popular Howard government minister Jim Lloyd in 2007 with little help from the Party’s Sussex St heavies. She feels that she won in 2007 through hard work and grass root campaigning and knowledge of local issues.

“I have been a resident of the Central Coast and the Woy Woy Peninsula for 30 years and have raised my family here and run a business here. “I love this community and our environment, but we on the Central Coast are not getting a fair share from either Federal or State government,” Ms Neal said.

Ms Neal said she has always been a strong advocate for the local community. During her time as Federal Member, she claims that she secured more federal funding for the Peninsula and Robertson overall than the Liberals did in the previous 10 years.

She listed her successes as including: obtaining federal funding for local schools and hospitals, commuter car parks and a new freight rail corridor to reduce delays and disruptions for commuters, obtained CCTV in the Woy Woy, Ettalong and Umina CBDs to counter antisocial behaviour and secured funding for massively improved water infrastructure for the Peninsula.

Ms Neal said during her time as member for Robertson she was passionately committed to securing more training assistance and new youth employment programs to give young people better opportunities.

“I will fight to make sure our young people have access to the skills and learning they need to succeed in the future; I will not rest until we have restored an affordable, highquality TAFE system and ended the farce of $100,000 university degrees,” she said.

“As the MP for Robertson, I ran a successful campaign for a Regional Cancer Treatment Centre at Gosford Hospital with a Federal Government grant $28.5 million and negotiated the support of the NSW Government for ongoing operational costs.” Ms Anne Charlton has also confirmed she is running for ALP preselection in Robertson.

“I moved to Wamberal more than a decade ago with my husband Brett, a doctor who works in medical research. “I am a proud mum to three children and step-mum to another three wonderful children.

“I have also had the privilege of opening my home to a number of young adults who have attended NAISDA Aboriginal Dance College at Mount Penang. “Living, working and raising teenage children on the Central Coast has given me a deep understanding of the challenges we face.

“I spent eight years working with Central Coast Family Support at Kariong, managing their Grandparents Raising Grandchildren program. “This highlighted for me the lack of support in our area for grandparents and pensioners, especially the difficulty accessing quality health care and reliable public transport.

“I was raised in a workingclass family in country NSW, mum and dad were often in and out of work. “I have been very open about my family history and my tough experience as a child. “I did well at school, but I left school and home at 15. “As a homeless teenager, I was introduced to heroin.

“It’s not the standard story of most people who run for office. “I was lucky that the Children’s Court and the Magistrate’s Court offered me residential rehabilitation and treatment. “It turned my life around, that was more than 30 years ago, and I have spent my life giving back to the community.

“It’s why I’ve worked in health and in community services in government, nongovernment and the private sector. “I understand family dysfunction and I’m passionate about education and training so young people have a pathway to a job, and so older people enjoy a decent retirement.

“Since telling my story so publicly, I have been amazed at the number of people who have approached me to share their family stories, and been so warm and encouraging. “It’s a lot more common than you think.

“I am really keen to represent the region and to work collaboratively to improve services, and generate jobs and investment to protect the Central Coast lifestyle,” she said.

Mr Van Davy, whose candidacy has not been confirmed by Labor NSW, said he has been a member of the ALP for 50 years and wants to represent the ALP because: “The ALP represents the best chance working Australians and their families have to achieve decent living standards and ‘people control’ over the shaping forces on society.

“The Labor Party needs communicators who can engage with uncommitted voters, especially voters in Labor’s ‘lost’ heartland of centrist workers,” he said.

“I do this well, as an educator who sketches the ‘big picture’ in ways that workers can understand, can relate to their lives, that cuts through the neo-con and Green propaganda that ‘there is no difference between the major parties’”, Mr Davy said.

“I want to see more Parliamentarians in Labor’s leadership structure who have less interest in career, factional power, numbercrunching and branchstacking and more interest in, and with more demonstrated skills in: research; identification of national concerns and national opportunities; genuine data-based collaboration with the membership, and specialists; formulations of appropriate responses to national concerns; policydevelopment, political education of the Australian public; forward strategic thinking,” he said.

Coast Community News has sent emails and called Labor NSW to seek confirmation of whether Mr Davy has been accepted as a candidate. We’ve also asked questions about how the preselection ballot will be held and when the Labor candidate for Robertson will be known.

At the time of going to press our calls and emails had not been answered by Labor NSW.

Media release,
Dec 1, 2015
David Abrahams, former
ALP preselection candidate
Media release,
Nov 30, 2015
Anne Charlton, ALP
preselection candidate
Media release,
Nov 30, 2015
John Della Bosca,
Discourse Consulting
Media statement,
Nov 17, 2015
Van Davy, ALP preselection