No. 5 Steve Cansdell
THE SURPRISE return of former Nationals Member for Clarence Steve Cansdell to political life has sent shock waves through the local political system.
Mr Cansdell resigned from parliament in 2011 in disgrace just six months after the Coalition swept to power in NSW.
Almost seven years later he is back with a new party, the Shooters, Farmers and Fishers, stirring up the status quo and standing up for the rank and file voter.
Always known for his straight-talking style, he has wasted no time getting under the skin of his former colleagues when it comes to debating the big issues confronting the region.
Even with record infrastructure spending in the Clarence Valley, Mr Cansdell has taken it upon himself to attract even more money to the Clarence Valley.
Even before campaigning begins in earnest for the State Government elections in March 2019, he has established a mantra of “even if I lose, the Clarence Valley can be a winner as long as the government spends more money here”.
But the competitive nature of the former boxing champion plus the volatile political landscape in Australia, means he has not given up on regaining the seat.
The Wagga by-election in September, where a massive swing against the Liberal incumbent had an independent grab the seat, raised the prospect of an upset in Clarence.
Since then the Liberal brand has imploded further, with commentators now saying the NSW Government’s future looks shaky, simply due to the federally inflicted brand damage.
Mr Cansdell knows these cracks in the government facade can be exploited by campaigning on issues closer to home.
From the moment he announced his intention to run for office, he set about doing this.
Straight away he took up the plight of a group of local sub-contractors who had been dudded out of their money when the Queensland construction company Ostwald Bros went broke last year.
Soon after, the NSW Government announced it would bail out the contractors with an ex-gratia payment entirely covering their losses.
Mr Cansdell switched his attention to a problem literally in his backyard, the issue of speeding trucks through Ulmarra village, where he lives just a few doors away.
He was devastated at the plight of a local family who three times in four years had endured a track crashing into their yard, narrowly missing their home.
He took up the fight, urging the government to install a speed camera in the village to make sure any truckies who ignored speed limits paid the price.
He also urged the RMS to install barriers on the village’s notorious corner to protect residents if another truck did leave the road.
Typically Mr Cansdell did not seek to claim the victory when these measures were installed, but that does not mean his prints were not on them.