Steve Cansdell announces he is running as a candidate for the seat of Clarence as a member of the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers party.
Steve Cansdell announces he is running as a candidate for the seat of Clarence as a member of the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers party. Adam Hourigan

We're getting short-changed in the country: Cansdell

THE candidate for the SFF Party for Clarence Steve Cansdell claims that the rural and regional areas have been shortchanged on by $2b over the last six years.

"The time for talk is over. We've had the local Nationals MP along with the Deputy Premier John Barilaro promising funding and upgraded facilities for Grafton Base Hospital for years now and still there is nothing to show,” Mr Cansdell said.

"We now have the local member too afraid to talk to his boss about the increased funding and he's putting it back on the community to sign his petition to get the urgently required upgrades that Grafton Hospital needs.

"We now find out that Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Deputy Premier John Barilaro have been short-changing rural communities half their infrastructure funding over the last six years. People of rural and regional NSW have missed out on $2billion dollars over the last six years according to the Auditor-General's Report on State Finances which was released last Friday.”

The claims come after Mr Gulaptis last week called a meeting of doctors, community organisations and the media to help him petition the government to make sure a $264-million rebuild of Grafton Base Hospital remains a top priority.

"We need to work together as a community to make this happen," Mr Gulaptis said.

"One of us can't do it. I can't do it on my own. I need your help to put this front and centre of the government's attention."

According to Mr Cansdell, page 18 of the Auditor-General's Report states that "Over the past six years to 30 June 2018, 18.5 per cent of payments [to the Restart NSW Fund] have gone to [country] areas.”

However, Section 9 of the Restart NSW Fund Act 2011 requires the State Government to spend 30 per cent of money in the fund on rural infrastructure projects.

"Deputy Premier John Barilaro brags that he has his 'hand on the cheque book' and can deliver for the bush, but now he's been caught out ripping these people off,” Mr Cansdell said

"His hand may be on the cheque book, but his Liberal Party boss is the one writing the cheques, and she only wants to spend money in the city.”

"Rural people are angry that they are constantly being short-changed by a city-focused Government, and this report proves their concerns to be the reality,” Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party MLC Robert Borsak said.

"What's the point of having a local member who's part of this coalition Government that's too afraid to fight for his local community? It's time the Nats opened the cheque book and started spending in rural NSW”

"We're seeing this time and time again in the Clarence Electorate. Our community desperatly needs an ambulance station at Iluka, a helipad at Maclean, urgent upgrades at Grafton Hospital, sewerage for our smaller communities. We've got the local community fighting for these urgent projects and yet the current member does nothing. They have the money sitting there but refuse to hand it over.”

Mr Cansdell aid that the current government don't mind wasting billions of dollars relocating the Powerhouse Museum or billions of dollars upgrading perfectly good stadiums in Sydney but when it came to helping people in rural and regional Australia they bury their heads in the sand.

"Come on Chris, fight for our local communities, do whats right and get your Government to upgrade health services in our community,” he said.

Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis has been contacted for comment.