Mark Latham, the former federal Labor leader turned NSW One Nation hopeful, has been in the area to unveil his party’s regional policies and support a local candidate.
The man who led Labor into the 2004 federal election – which was ultimately won by the John Howard-led Coalition – is now standing for the NSW upper house at the March state election.
He visited Leeton and Griffith and launched the campaign of Thomas Weyrich, who is standing in the seat of Murray for One Nation.
Mr Latham told The Daily Advertiser his party’s priorities for region NSW were fourfold.
The first was lowering electricity costs by $85 through abolishing the NSW Climate Change Fund, which Mr Latham described as an "electricity tax”.
Water policy was the second priority, he said.
“Clearly, NSW is giving too much of its water away to South Australia, particularly during this time of drought,” Mr Latham said.
Thirdly, Mr Latham said One Nation wanted more money put into country hospitals.
“The current government is spending $810 million on re-seating the Olympic Stadium at Homebush. We would rather see that money spent on tradies working on hospital repair and put some money into regional economies,” he said.
The fourth priority for One Nation, he said, was “very much a defence of Australian values”.
“People know we’ll speak honestly about the importance of loving our country, of merit selection and free speech,” Mr Latham said.
“We’re not scared of political correctness. All the radical attempts to change our way of life and roll back many of the best things about Australia, One Nation stand up against that.”
Mr Latham said the state should be diversifying its energy base and adding nuclear to the mix, lifting the ban on uranium mining and getting away from the “renewables religion”.
He said the cost of living was always an issue with voters and the biggest change in household bills had been the “doubling of electricity prices over the last decade”.
The One Nation hopeful was also critical of government commitments to “reduce red tape”.
“When governments promise that, they don’t ever seem to deliver it and they’ll be back in four years’ time saying the same things again,” he said.
The man who is said to have been mentored by Labor stalwart Gough Whitlam also spoke about his move into One Nation.
“I think politics has changed a lot more than I have. I don’t recognise today’s Labor party. They’re now a light green party. They’ve moved to the left, they’ve lost touch with the issues of working people,” the 57-year-old said.
"In particular, they’ve added a big focus on what we call identity politics, judging people by race, gender and sexuality.
“I grew up in a Labor party thinking the only way to run a fair society was to treat everyone on merit.”