The recent by-elections in NSW in Orange, Canterbury, and Wollongong have been a test to the Baird Government. The Indian Telegraph spoke to Mr. Luke Foley, Leader of Opposition recently. This is what he has to say.
The Indian Telegraph: Why are the by-elections in Orange, Canterbury and Wollongong important to Labor?
Mr. Luke Foley: It is important that the results send a message to Mr. Baird the Premier. There are several community concerns and issues. Mr. Baird seems not concerned about these issues. By-elections are a perfect opportunity to send a message.
Each of these electorates is different, and there are no similarities. In Canterbury, Labor focused on policy to expanding Canterbury Hospital. In Wollongong, it is about giving jobs. Wollongong is a wonderful place to live. The people of Wollongong want to reward their children with jobs and not having to travel too far.
Orange is a perfect opportunity to send a message to Baird Government. With Health, related issues, greyhound racing backflip, and council amalgamations are some of the reasons.
Every such election is important to Labor. Our campaign focussed on policies relevant to the electorates and listening to the problems of the community.
The Indian Telegraph: How would you have handled the greyhound racing issue differently?
Mr. Luke Foley: From the moment, it was announced I was opposing. Firstly, it was announced on Facebook and secondly it was an overreaction. In any walk of life, no one should carry out collective punishment. Good people get punished for the mistakes of a few.
I am fully for punishing people for cruelty to animals and imposing a life ban on such bad people. Let us have an integrity commission. I support strict regulations.
Having said this, I welcome Premier Baird’s reversal of the decision on this (Greyhound Racing) issue. I have been campaigning for three months on this issue. Now we need to work together.
The Indian Telegraph: But there is a perception that you have been taking a political advantage of this issue?
Mr. Luke Foley: This is politics. When the Premier announced the ban on greyhound racing, thousands of people were affected. It is my job (as alternate Premier) to put forward my view. I also gave alternate suggestions in this debate.
The Indian Telegraph: What is your stand on current lockout laws? Which is important—business or safety and security of people?
Mr. Luke Foley: I think Parliament must act balancing between public safety and vibrant business. Parliament had to act on Kings Cross. I have spoken to Ambulance personnel, the Police and businesses.
While I support strict regulations, we also need to be concerned about its impact on night economy. We are studying various reports and trials taking place. There is room for improvement. We want to work with the Government on this issue
The Indian Telegraph: On the issue of growing domestic violence, a major community concern, it is not clear what the Labor stand on policy is?
Mr. Luke Foley: We have regularly been speaking on this subject. I am the White Ribbon Ambassador. Only recently I supported extending the leave facility in National Employment Standard for victims of domestic violence.
We have taken up this proposal with the Premier of NSW and Council of Australian Governments (COAG). Even Rosy Batty, the renowned DV campaigner is for protecting the employment of DV victims. This is just one example of the Labor policy on domestic violence.
By: Vish Vishwanathan
Online Source: The Indian Telegraph.