Shoot­ers up in arms over nurse

The Australian - - THE NATION - AN­DREW CLENNELL NSW PO­LIT­I­CAL ED­I­TOR

Shoot­ers MP Robert Bor­sak has ac­cused the NSW Na­tion­als of more favours for mates after the by-elec­tion an­nounce­ment of a high-school men­tal-health nurse was made at the school at which the Coota­mundra Na­tion­als’ can­di­date’s hus­band is the prin­ci­pal.

Steph Cooke is the can­di­date for Coota­mundra for the Na­tion­als and her hus­band, Keith Du­ran, is the prin­ci­pal at Young High School. This week, the par­lia­men­tary sec­re­tary for the deputy premier, Bron­nie Tay­lor, an­nounced a “state-first school health pi­lot pro­gram de­signed to im­prove the men­tal health and well­be­ing of pri­mary and high­school stu­dents in Young’’.

“Ms Tay­lor said the NSW gov­ern­ment will em­ploy a ded­i­cated well­be­ing and health in-reach nurse to co-or­di­nate phys­i­cal and men­tal health­care sup­port for stu­dents as part of a two-year trial pro­gram,” the state­ment said.

Mr Bor­sak said the de­ci­sion to fund the trial at the school where the Na­tion­als can­di­date’s hus- band was the prin­ci­pal was ques­tion­able.

“I think this raises ques­tions about Na­tional Party pork­bar­relling right in the mid­dle of a by-elec­tion,” Mr Bor­sak said.

Ms Cooke said Young was an area with high self-harm statis­tics and “if I lose some votes be­cause of the pol­i­tics around this ap­point­ment but it saves the life of a sin­gle stu­dent or stops an­other harm­ing them­selves, I will still con­sider it a good de­ci­sion”.

“It wouldn’t mat­ter if the Shoot­ers Party can­di­date was the prin­ci­pal of the school, the ap­point­ment of a school nurse was needed and still would have hap­pened,” Ms Cooke said.

“It is no se­cret that sui­cide is a ma­jor is­sue across all re­gional ar­eas and we know that Young is par­tic­u­larly af­fected. To try and politi­cise this for an elec­tion when Young has one of the high­est rates of self harm is a new low.’’

Mr Bor­sak’s ac­cu­sa­tion comes amid heated con­tests for the Coota­mundra and Mur­ray by­elec­tions to­mor­row be­tween the Na­tion­als and the Shoot­ers, Fish­ers and Farm­ers party.

The Na­tion­als were ac­cused yes­ter­day of dis­tribut­ing on car wind­shields letters from for­mer prime min­is­ter John Howard crit­i­cis­ing the Shoot­ers, and ar­ti­cles doc­u­ment­ing an ele­phant shoot in which Mr Bor­sak took part.

State Na­tion­als di­rec­tor Nathan Quigley ad­mit­ted this had hap­pened and said a staffer had been told to de­sist.

There were other ac­cu­sa­tions in par­lia­ment yes­ter­day. Po­lice Min­is­ter Troy Grant said the Shoot­ers MP for Or­ange, Philip Donato, had mis­led the house and should apol­o­gise.

Mr Donato had lied when he said he had been re­fused a meet­ing by deputy po­lice com­mis­sioner Gary Wor­boys to dis­cuss a pro­posal to merge ru­ral lo­cal area com­mands, Mr Grant said.

In fact, Mr Wor­boys had re­ceived no at­tempted con­tact from Mr Donato, Mr Grant said.

Steph Cooke

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