IN a surprise move, Upper Hunter councillor Lee Watts has thrown her hat into the state ring for the upcoming NSW Election.
Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party MLC Robert Brown announced the Scone Neighbourhood Resource Centre manager as the organisation’s candidate for the Upper Hunter.
Mrs Watts replaces John Preston, who withdrew from the race in September due to personal reasons.
She becomes the third major player for the seat, alongside Nationals’ incumbent Michael Johnsen and Country Labor’s Martin Rush.
Mr Brown said Mrs Watts would be the strong voice the electorate deserved, given her proven track record on council.
“The Upper Hunter was the most marginal area for the Nationals at the last election, but it’s the one that has been most neglected by them,” he explained.
“That’s why the Upper Hunter deserves a strong representative like Lee Watts who will actually deliver for them.
“With all due respect to John [Preston], we’re very happy to have her on board.
“We believe we can win.”
Mrs Watts, who ran as an Independent in 2015, launched her campaign by putting both major parties on notice for ignoring the needs of the region.
“The Nationals have failed the Upper Hunter,” she said.
“And, our electorate deserves much more.
“They’ve failed to fix our roads, they’ve failed to fight for drought relief funding, and they’ve failed to stand up to the city Liberals.
“People out here keep telling me that they’re tired of voting for people who can’t or won’t deliver for the region.
“Despite having the natural resources and power stations that fuel the rest of New South Wales, we have several bypasses that have been ignored for decades.
“In fact, this electorate is the powerhouse for the state, yet we get very little in return.
“And, more money is being spent on building Sydney stadiums than helping our struggling farmers.”
Mrs Watts said, as a representative of the Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party, she could make a difference for the region.
“Unlike Labor or the Nationals, the Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party can use the balance of power to deliver for our region no matter who is in government,” she added.
“Having a National Party representative in a Liberal government hasn’t worked for us.
“With a massive budget surplus and more than $4 billion unspent for the Snowy Hydro Scheme sell-off, there’s no reason why so many local projects and services remain underfunded.”