Nurses, teachers, firefighters and University students will be out in force on the Central Coast today protesting against Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s long over-due visit to the region. 

The Prime Minister, attended a fundraising function at Central Coast Leagues Club with Robertson federal Liberal MP Lucy Wicks, and was greeted by protesting locals who believe the Coalition have broken too many promises since being elected.

Central Coast Community Union Activist Michelle Cashman said people on the Central Coast feel left behind and are fed up of Abbott’s attacks on their living standards. 

“As a community we’ve had enough of Abbott’s cuts to pensions, his unaffordable University fees, his attacks on Medicare, his cuts to public services and his lack of vision for jobs on the Coast,” Mrs Cashman said. 

“As a nurse I believe in good quality, affordable healthcare and every day I see this being chipped away. The Abbott government has ripped billions in health funding from NSW over the past two years and is continuing to attack the universality of Medicare."

“By ripping much needed funds from our already struggling public health system they are reducing it to a safety net and making people think that private health cover and private hospitals are the only solutions for healthcare. This will eventually lead us to an Americanised user-pays system. Good quality healthcare shouldn’t depend on how much you can pay; many of our patients wouldn’t be able to afford it that way.” 

Mrs Cashman said the community is also worried about the future of their youth with unemployment levels at 15.7% well above the national average of 13.9%. 

“We want to know where the jobs plan is for the Coast. What are Lucy Wicks and Tony Abbott going to do about this? 

“Our education system is under attack from Liberal governments at both a state and federal level. Our kids can’t even access the HSC on the Central Coast anymore because our TAFE courses have been cut to the core. Couple this with Abbott’s U-turn on Gonski reforms and the introduction of $100,000 degrees and what chance do our children have?”  

The Abbott Government has cut $1 billion from skills and training, $66 million in support for adult apprentices and $43 million to equip jobseekers with basic skills and training, further alienating the thousands of jobseekers on the Coast.

“As community activists it is our role to get out there and make our voices heard. People do have the power to shift their decision makers and today’s action is just the start.”


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Peter Deane
commented 2015-07-06 08:51:41 +1000
On Thursday 2 July, Tony Abbott ventured to the Central Coast on a fundraising expedition, adding even more fuel to the election speculation fire. This is a rare visit to the Central Coast by Abbott, who is only just over an hour’s drive to the region from his Sydney Northern Beaches electorate. He has not visited the Central Coast since October 2013.

In the morning, he met with Karen McNamara, member for Dobell (the northern electorate of the Central Coast) for a morning tea at the huge Mingara Sport and Recreation Club at Tumbi Umbi.

Dobell is the fourth most marginal seat in Australia, held by McNamara with only 50.68% of the Two Party Preferred vote.

A redistribution in Dobell will see less a favourable electorate for McNamara next election, losing blue-ribbon suburbs like Wamberal, Matcham and Erina Heights, and taking in more traditional Labor voting areas in the north.

After the morning tea they met up with the member for Robertson, Lucy Wicks. Robertson is still very marginal (15th in the country) held by 53.00% of the 2PP at the September 2013 national poll. But Wicks may well fare better from the redistribution, gaining those suburbs lost to McNamara.

Their meeting took place at the Airpak Sheetmetal factory at West Gosford, where Abbott did his only media appearance of the day.

Joined by assistant Minister for Employment, Luke Hartsuyker (a National whose electorate is based around Coffs Harbour), they walked around the factory for a photo op in hi-vis and hard hats. They then did a brief press conference during which Abbott tried to hose down moves to get a vote on a multi-party sponsored same sex marriage bill.

“I certainly accept it’s an important issue, it’s an important issue on which decent people can differ,” he said. “It’s quite unusual for private members bills to come on for debate and a vote in the Parliament”.

It looks like it’s not a case of allowing members a free vote on same sex marriage, it’s a matter of actually having a vote in the parliament at all.

After the factory visit he arrived with Wicks at the Central Coast Leagues club, the largest club on the Central Coast. Before arrival a large crowd of about 120 people had gathered in Dane Drive, in front of the Central Coast Stadium gates waving placards and calling for social equity and fairness.

A number of passing motorists called out abusively, with one woman clearly heard saying the crowd was “a pack of idiots”, but others tooting horns in support.

The event here was a $110-a-seat formal event with many local Liberal party luminaries and supporters invited. The event was scheduled for 12:30 to 2pm, but Abbott’s armour-plated BMW dropped him off at 1:04pm.

He was dropped off at the back door in Baker Street, thus avoiding being seen anywhere near the protestors, and also denying the protestors a view of the man they’d come to see.

No media was allowed into the club during Abbott’s visit, and your scribe, despite being a member of the club, was refused entry and told to leave the premises in no uncertain terms.

Abbott left at 2:25pm (again via the back door) and was ferried to the Central Coast Regional Art Gallery (also known as Edogawa Japanese Gardens) at East Gosford, arriving about ten minutes later.

A crowd of about 150 people had assembled, many of whom had been at the Leagues Club, and were joined by others, most notable being Father Rod Bower of Gosford Anglican Church (with the famous signs).

The whole crowd turned their backs on the Prime Minister on his arrival and entry to the venue, but no photographs of this exist, as the large security contingent prevented any photographer from getting into a suitable position.

“The state police were very reasonable about it,” explained Father Rod. “But when we were about to turn our backs on him, Peta Credlin went over and had a word with the Federal Officers, and it was made impossible for anyone to get photos”.

“It was a case of the police protecting the Prime Minister from pensioners and children,” he said.

During the function at East Gosford, about 200 Liberal Party Supporters were invited to hear the Prime Minister speak, and there was a long queue of people willing to wait to have a personal word or two with him and shake his hand.

Three A-frames with corflutes of the local member Lucy Wicks were positioned in the roadways in front of the gardens, which seemed to be contrary to council regulations, but no action was taken.

The gardens, normally a fairly quiet place for locals and the occasional tourist to spend a relaxed hour or so, were closed to the public during Abbott’s visit by a large contingent of police. A young mother with her small daughter on roller-shoes who were eagerly planning a visit to the gardens was told by police officers they could not enter this council-owned establishment, and they disappointedly left.

Abbott left at 3:46pm, again via the back door (photo).

He must have raised many thousands of dollars for the Liberal Party throughout the day.