IN DEPTH

2019 Federal Election - Cowper decides

Voting is a privilege - make sure your one counts
Voting is a privilege - make sure your one counts

AFTER a faux campaign that lasted months, voters in the electorate of Cowper are nearing the end game with the Federal election on Saturday.

And we are spoilt with choice - eight candidates have put their names forward for your favour. To the winner, will be the privilege of representing the largest seat in the land by the number of registered voters.

Cowper is a somewhat unusual regional electorate in that it now takes in two large country cities in Coffs Harbour and Port Macquarie, along with the significant towns of Kempsey, Nambucca Heads, Macksville and Bellingen.

The seat has long been held by The Nationals Luke Hartsuyker - however his decision to retire has made it an open race, so much so that Prime Minister Scott Morrison zipped into the area on Thursday to encourage support for his Government.

Among the expected front-runners are onetime kingmaker, Independent Rob Oakeshott, Nationals new boy and Kempsey born and raised Pat Conaghan, and Bellingen's Andrew Woodward who has long been campaigning for Labor, and formerly had a go at ousting Tony Abbott in Warringah.

One of the more mysterious candidates is the Christian Democratic Party's (CDP) Ruth Meads.

Ms Meads is a "paper ballot" contestant - and has not been available to Press for interview nor photograph.

So, like the dentist in the old toothpaste commercial, we can't show you her face.

Pat Conaghan, The Nationals

Pat Conaghan, The Nationals

Pat Conaghan, The Nationals

GROWING up in Kempsey and now living in Port Macquarie with my wife Ilona and two sons, I'm a proud born and bred Cowper local.

I have spent 12 years in the NSW Police Force, where I served in General Duties and The Drug Enforcement Agency. Studying at night, I obtained a Law degree and went on to serve as police prosecutor and now own and manage a legal practice.

I'm committed to creating pathways for youth employment, boosting small business opportunities, and easing congestion in our region.

My priority is getting back to basics, making sure we get the services we need, ensuring more roads are upgraded, health care standards are raised, and our region isn't second best to city facilities.

I want to work to make sure investment in our region continues while focusing on lowering power prices, keeping our services up with demand and ensuring more job opportunities come to the region.

I will fight to protect your hard earned retirement from Bill Shorten and Labor's attempts to take it away. I want to make sure our seniors continue to live comfortably in retirement.

A stronger economy is the key to creating more and better paying jobs, keeping Australians safe and able to pay for essential services. I want to back the 18,624 small and medium businesses in Cowper, and make sure workers pay less tax.

I will fight to make sure we keep seeing the investment we need and most importantly deserve.

Alexander (Lex) Stewart - United Australia Party

Alexander (Lex) Stewart - United Australia Party

Alexander (Lex) Stewart - United Australia Party

Who are you? After a 50-year career in mainly engineering, I retired to Stuarts Point in August 2018, thinking I would have a quiet time.

But previous clients keep on asking me to do consultancy work. In January, Clive Palmer asked me to stand as a candidate.

If there is one thing in Cowper you could fix, what is it, and how would you do it?

I would like to see some dams built with hydro-electricity being generated. How crazy that Port Macquarie is on water restrictions! And that Kempsey, Grafton etc suffer floods, when dams could pipe the water west into the Murray-Darling from Cowper and Page electorates.

Why should people vote for you?

This country is facing huge challenges, of which climate change is only one. Clive Palmer has said it is a serious issue.

I am competent to objectively face these challenges, not only in regards to local issues in Cowper, but broad issues like electricity, food supply, energy etc. Among a mainly Engineering/Management career of 50 years, I have worked for six MPs (three in Canberra, three in NSW) from four different parties, including a Minister and a Senator.

Unfortunately, the major parties often preselect candidates for their compliance rather than their competence, leading to inadequate Ministers. One of the problems of Parliament is that half of them are lawyers and only one or two are scientists/engineers. In this technological age, I would bring a breath of fresh air into Parliament.

Andrew Woodward - Labor

Andrew Woodward - Labor

Andrew Woodward - Labor

Who are you? I work in sustainability and environmental management and communications and live in Bellingen.

I first moved to the Mid North Coast in the mid-1980s and later married into the area.

I have spent most of my life working in sustainability, major events, sport, tourism and financial services.

I also have two Masters Degrees - one in Environmental Management and the other in Business and Technology. I am a parent to two teens.

If there is one thing in Cowper you could fix, what is it, and how would you do it?

We need to break the chronic problem of youth unemployment by consolidating the jobs we have now; hunting and gathering new remote-working jobs from business and government nationally, and by investing in new industries such as renewable energy, sustainable resources, nature restoration and tree and carbon farming.

Why should people vote for you? We're aiming to have a majority Labor Government after the election on May 18. The cuts, chaos and division of the Liberals and Nationals have to end. We need Labor's good policy, stability and fairness.

Very simply, we'll all be better off with a Labor voice inside a Labor Government. I have the experience, expertise and energy to be the person we need.

A vote for Labor is a vote for change. A vote for anyone else risks the return of the Morrison Liberal-National Government.

Rob Oakeshott - Independent

Rob Oakeshott - Independent

Rob Oakeshott - Independent

Who are you? Port Macquarie has been my home for more than 26 years and I feel incredibly grateful to be raising my four children on the Mid North Coast. I was proud to represent Port Macquarie as a State MP for 11 years and the Lyne electorate as Federal MP from 2008 to 2013.

I got great satisfaction from working within the community to make significant infrastructure improvements during that time, like the Port Macquarie Base Hospital upgrade, Charles Sturt University expansion and three local airport upgrades.

Now that Port Macquarie has been included in the seat of Cowper I am looking forward to doing the same for communities in and around towns like Coffs Harbour, Bellingen, Nambucca and Kempsey.

If there is one thing in Cowper you could fix, what is it, and how would you do it?

Get the Coffs bypass built and finish the Pacific Highway. I worked on getting four Pacific Highway bypasses completed in my previous stints in parliament. I know what's involved and I know that the Coffs community and the Mid North Coast in general has been played on this project. Thirty years of talking and promising, and work hasn't even started. I'd reach out to the community for engagement and secure funding for three viaduct tunnels.

Why should people vote for you? Results. Results. Results. And to bring some decency back into parliament and the public discourse.

Lauren Edwards - The Greens

Lauren Edwards - The Greens

Lauren Edwards - The Greens

I AM a person deeply committed to pursuing environmental and social justice.

I am a mum to a wonderful teenager who I have raised as a sole parent and I am a keen community development participant involved in a range of community action groups in the Hastings area.

I am a remedial therapist running my own small business and I am also a musician and perform all around the Cowper electorate.

I live at Lighthouse Beach and have done so for more than 20 years.

I will tackle under-employment. We have the comprehensive and fully costed plan to support small business to take up sustainable clean energy and save on energy costs.

Under-employment is a challenge in Cowper and we need more job opportunities, so when we support small business and encourage growth in new clean industries, we create these opportunities for increased employment.

The Greens will bring this to Cowper and we'll also increase Newstart by $75 per week so that people can live without the stress of poverty while trying to improve their circumstances and gain employment.

People should vote for me because we can have an Australia that truly looks after the environment that sustains us and brings job opportunities to our Cowper community.

The Greens can do all this without fear and with pride because we refuse to take donations from corporations trying to buy political influence.

We can't be bought and we won't sell you out.

Kellie Pearce - Animal Justice Party

Kellie Pearce - Animal Justice Party

Kellie Pearce - Animal Justice Party

Who are you? I have lived in the Coffs Coast region since 2002. I have volunteered locally for a wide range of causes and events, including WIRES, the local theatre, and also running financial literacy courses for local women to help increase financial awareness and well-being.

I am a passionate advocate for the end of live animal exports. Also of concern is the environment, especially in relation to unregulated land clearing, water quality and factory farming.

If there is one thing in Cowper you could fix, what is it, and how would you do it?

The wild population of koalas on the Mid North and North Coast is critically threatened and in need of our protection. Without action, koalas could be extinct by 2050. The Animal Justice Party will address and arrest the serious decline in the koala population by implementing a koala recovery plan.

This could include an expansion of the Koala Hospital in Port Macquarie with the potential of others in Cowper. In addition to rehabilitation these could also include youth employment opportunities in animal husbandry and tourism via way of guided tours, education and hospitality.

Why should people vote for you?

If you love animals and want to see an end to animals suffering by live export and factory farming, you need to vote 1 for Animal Justice Party.

Every vote the Animal Justice Party receives is a message to Canberra that live export must stop.

Allan Green - Independent

Allan Green - Independent

Allan Green - Independent

The electorate is not interested in which school I went to, rather what I am going to do if elected. I would rather write about my goals for the nation and how I intend to implement them.

The Prime Minister is borrowing the money each week to pay the public service.

I intend to introduce tariffs for the food processing industries as Australia now imports canned food.

I intend to protect the steel industry. The steel industry is under administration.

I intend to revive and have 51 per cent equity in the car industry.

General Motors has demolished the car plant at Fisherman's Bend.

I intend to build a series of Snowy schemes along the East Coast and drought-proof the Murray Darling.

Australia has the opportunity to supply 350 thousand tonnes of soy beans to China each week.

I will buy back the electricity supply.

I intend to introduce legislation to outlaw bank derivatives (the only people whom Jesus lost his temper with were the bankers).

They have not changed in 2000 years.

I want Australia to be able to feed the 65 million refugees.

I want to spend money on the Australian people rather than bombs and weaponry and fighter aircraft (the Howard Government spent $260 billion on the Iraqi War.

And what do we have to show for it?

Cowper at a glance

Our seat is named in honour of Sir Charles Cowper CMG KCMG, 1807-75. Cowper was a statesman who served as Premier of NSW on five occasions.

While our first two representatives had fleeting stints, in later years, MPs have been mostly there for the long haul.

1901-1903: Clarke F (PROT)

1903-1906: Lee HW (FT)

1906-1919: Thomson J (PROT/LIB/NAT)

1919-1961: Page ECG (FSU/CP)

1961-1963: McGuren FW (ALP)

1963-1984: Robinson IL (CP/NCP)

1984-2001: Nehl G (NP)

2001-2019: Hartsuyker L (NP)

House of Representatives: On the green ballot paper, you need to put a '1' in the box beside the candidate who is your first choice, '2' in the box beside your second choice and so on, until you have numbered every box.

Senate: On the white ballot paper you can choose to vote either above or below the line. If you vote above the line, you must number at least six boxes from 1 to 6. If you vote below the line, you must number at least 12 boxes from 1 to 12.

If you make a mistake, you can ask for another ballot paper and start again.

This Saturday: On election day you can vote at any polling place in your home state or territory. Polling places open at 8am and close at 6pm sharp.

If you are in another state or territory and you haven't voted early, you will need to vote at an interstate voting centre.