Former Port Stephens Mayor Bruce MacKenzie officially enters the battle for the Upper Hunter

Bruce MacKenzie may not be a household name in the Upper Hunter but his 50-odd year career in local government politics puts him in good stead to ruffle more than a few feathers in the upcoming NSW by-election on May 22.

BACK IN POLITICS: Former Port Stephens Mayor and Gloucester land owner Bruce MacKenzie has registered as an independent candidate in the Upper hunter's May 22 by-election.

BACK IN POLITICS: Former Port Stephens Mayor and Gloucester land owner Bruce MacKenzie has registered as an independent candidate in the Upper hunter's May 22 by-election.

The former Mayor of Port Stephens, known to most as 'MacKa', has officially entered the foray, but admits he may still withdraw his registration as an independent candidate.

"I've filled in the paperwork, it had to be lodged by April 30 but I've got until May 5 to withdraw if I want," he said.

Mr MacKenzie owns four properties totalling 15,000 acres at Gloucester.

The veteran of local government retired as mayor in 2017 and though he concedes that it would be an uphill battle to win the seat, the 82 year old believes his presence could send a clear message to those on Macquarie Street that 'people are fed up' with the current state of play.

"People have had enough of the bullsh*t," he said.

"Too much money is being wasted.

"The only time people out here see any money is during an election or by-election. They think we're easily conned.

"Both sides are out here making all these promises but when is it gonna actually happen? In a decade?

"I may not be known for my politics up here but I'm pretty well known in Gloucester and Dungog; I've got my [race] horses so people know me in scone.

"If I got seven per cent of votes in Dungog, 10 per cent in Gloucester, three per cent in the coal seats and eight per cent in Scone then add them up and it would be a problem for the big players.

"I'm not saying I could do it [win the seat], but I could be an annoyance.

Mr MacKenzie said fixing roads, increasing tourism and supporting those affected by drought in the Upper Hunter needed to be priorities.

He recently told ACM that building Tillegra dam, protecting landholder rights and coal mining jobs would also be his campaign priorities.

The controversial Tillegra Dam project, proposed for Dungog, was scrapped by the Keneally government in the lead up to the 2011 State election.

"That was nothing but a political thing," he said.

"It would've made the town. More people wanted it than didn't.

"There needs to be more focus on Tourism in the Barringtons and as for the roads in Dungog, well Dungog should've become part of Port Stephens LGA when it had the chance [in a 2017 proposed voluntary amalgamation].

"But those roads need fixing."

Mr MacKenzie denied the suggestion he was throwing his hat in the ring to preference one of the major parties.

"I'm not doing deals or preferences and I'm not paying people to hand out how-to-vote cards.

"People have had enough of that garbage on election day."

This story Former Port Stephens Mayor Bruce MacKenzie officially enters the battle for the Upper Hunter first appeared on The Singleton Argus.