Oakeshott responds on seven key Coffs issues | Rob Oakeshott | Independent for Cowper

Independent candidate for Cowper, Rob Oakeshott — the only candidate to have made meeting with Coffs Harbour Chamber of Commerce a priority — has replied without delay to seven key points the Chamber has raised for all candidates to address.

(Rob at Coffs Jetty Markets yesterday)

"The Coffs Harbour Chamber of Commerce last night laid out on their official Facebook page what they see the key economic opportunities for the Coffs Coast to increase visitation, jobs, and business sustainability. They said they would be lobbying all candidates for the coming Federal election on these matters.

I am happy to go on the record immediately and state my position on each of those seven points," said Mr Oakeshott.

1. I say YES to Southern Cross University allied health expansion — and more. I do think the education strategy is central to jobs and young people within most regional communities, and I see enormous opportunity in the Coffs region to build on the good work done to date.

2. I say YES to further decentralisation and creation of new jobs in and around the public sector. I am particularly interested in helping make Coffs the marine/maritime sciences capital of Australia and already think the foundations are in place for this to happen. The opportunities to expand on this are jumping out.

3. Fast-rail is a good idea that is a long way off. It seems to have become the pre-election go-to item for political parties trying to excite the entire north coast with one announcement. Even though I support the concept, I am a cynic about the real commitment to the project from Government. I want the Coffs By-Pass finished before we get another 30 years of expectation management and promises on another project.

4. I say YES to naval diving/tourism wrecks. These have been done before in other locations and by all accounts are proving successful. Bring it on.

5. I say YES to City Deal on transport, infrastructure and technology. This would be led by the councils in our region and I encourage their participation. There is power in approaching Government with one voice. It is how Port Macquarie and Coffs managed to expand their cancer services a decade ago.

Regarding a runway extension at Coffs Airport I want to have a good conversation with the local Indigenous Elders about their concerns. I need to understand what the sensitivities are and whether there are any work-around options. In principle, I strongly support a thickened and expanded runway as well as an activated business park — including thoughts about how this links to the education strategy discussed in point one. As a result of my on-going work in the Pacific Islands, I bring strong contacts within the Governments of that region, and Coffs could potentially position itself as the jump-off point for Pacific islands travel. That would open both inbound and outbound opportunities for all.

7. I say YES to using all levels to address 23.3% youth unemployment and increasing the availability of a skilled and work-ready workforce. This crucial challenge in the Coffs/Nambucca region was a major factor in me deciding to stand at this election."

For further details, please contact Deb Spillane

E: media@oakeshott.com.au

M: 0418 603513