Labor upper house MP Stephen Lawrence visited Broken Hill this week for various meetings and to show his support for the Yes! vote at the Voice to Parliament referendum pre-polling booths.
Recently named as the Labor party’s duty MLC for Barwon, Orange, Cootamundra, Dubbo, and Bathurst, Mr Lawrence expressed his pleasure at the appointment and recognised the extensive area he’s responsible for.
“Obviously it is a big job, with five electorates to cover,” Mr Lawrence said.
He added, “I am particularly excited to get Barwon, because I have spent a lot of time in Broken Hill over the years in my old job. I have had a lot to do with the community. When I come here I don’t have to go far before I run into people who I know which is nice.”
It is not all catching up with mates for the Labor MP, however. Mr Lawrence was quick to point out there are a lot of issues in Barwon that need addressing, and he plans to do everything he can in his new role representing the electorate.
“There’s a lot of issues in Barwon that I care a lot about. I look forward to working with Roy Butler. He is someone I’ve got a lot of respect for, and I look forward to working with him.”
One reason he is in town is to work with the Yes campaign. Mr Lawrence views this referendum as extremely important, and he hopes to cut through some of the misinformation that has surrounded the referendum.
“My view is there is not a lot of difference the yes and no positions. Where the difference lies is in a bunch of mistruths, misinformation, and disinformation.
“This referendum is proposing to recognise Aboriginal people through putting the machinery provision for The Voice in the constitution. But that doesn’t create The Voice, it will only be created by legislation and legislation can be amended or repealed down the track.
“It is like tax law. All the constitution says about tax law is the Commonwealth can legislate with respect to tax. Then Parliament goes on to legislate – there’s nothing unusual or scary about that.”
The Labor duty MLC for Barwon also touched on the recently released New South Wales state government budget, highlighting the work that is being done in essential services.
“We are significantly spending in the education and health spaces, and we think it will start to make a real difference in [staff] shortages. For example, there were 1100 nursing positions, including some positions out here, that were projected to end, and we have managed to find the money to fund them,” Mr Lawrence told the Truth.
And while he admits there is a place for the correct type of grant spending, essential services are the area that the NSW Labor government is focussing.
“We are very focussed on rebuilding our essential services. We make no bones about it. We will prioritise that kind of spending over discretionary grant funds.”