Councillor nominates for Labor in community preselection

BALLINA councillor Keith Williams has announced he will contest preselection for the Labor Party in the upcoming state election.

A former CEO in the non-profit sector, Mr Williams said he joined the Labor Party three years ago because of concerns over the state of politics in Australia.

Byron Shire councillor Paul Spooner is also expected to run for preselection in the seat.

"I realised I could no longer sit on the sidelines," he said.

"Labor has a proud history of achievements in Medicare, education, disability, the economy and the environment, but we also need to make a better, more responsive Labor Party to ensure this work continues."

RESTORING LABOR: Keith Williams.
RESTORING LABOR: Keith Williams. Doug Eaton

With an environmental science degree majoring in economics and a former executive officer of Ecotourism Australia, Mr Williams said he wanted to promote the development of sustainable industries.

"We do not have to accept high unemployment as a natural consequence of living in regional NSW. Too many families are struggling with part-time and low paid work."

He cited his work in establishing the Port Ballina Taskforce, with its focus on dredging, rebuilding marine industries and improving river health as an example of this approach.

"We will see a dredge operating in Ballina again, we will have marina facilities and we are making real progress in helping our river recover from decades of neglect."

Mr Williams announcement follows NSW Labor leader John Robertson's decision to allow a community preselection in the Ballina electorate.

Mr Robertson described the decision as a first for regional NSW. However, Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner pointed out the Nationals had done a community preselection at Tamworth more than four years ago.

The move means anyone on the electoral roll in the seat of Ballina - which covers all of Ballina Shire and most of Byron - can vote in the pre-selection process for their preferred Labor candidate.

The community vote is then weighted 50:50 with a vote of local members of the Labor Party.

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