IN THE RUNNING: The Nationals Orange branch chairman Duncan Brakell. Photo: STEVE GOSCH
THE competition for The Nationals’ preselection for the seat of Orange is becoming fierce, with Orange branch chairman Duncan Brakell announcing his intention to stand.
Mr Brakell, 44, moved to a 45-acre property at Spring Terrace from Sydney almost four years ago with his wife Karen and daughter Abigail, now 5, with his second daughter Madeline, 3, born at Orange Health Service.
“Karen and I believed that Sydney didn’t hold the values we were aspiring to and we had Abigail, who was two at the time, so we started to think about what sort of future did we want for Abigail’s schooling and access to medical services and other families with young children and we recognised the value of a country upbringing,” he said.
“In winter of 2012, we left Sydney and the central heating failed and it was snowing – it was quite the move but that didn’t stop us.”
Mr Brakell, a barrister, has run his own business in Orange and he joined The Nationals in March 2013, serving as the Orange branch chairman for the past three years.
He has also been involved in the Spring Terrace Water Group and represented the Orange Ratepayers Association to challenge councillor Kevin Duffy’s eligibility to run for Orange City Council.
“I was already thinking about moving into politics and politics at the state and federal level tends to be a natural progression from the bar,” he said.
If successful at preselection and the byelection, Mr Brakell said his main priorities were securing adequate resources for regional schools and health services, economic diversification and value adding to orchard, wool and meat businesses, and improving freight efficiency through the inland rail project.
“There’s a tremendous opportunity for the Orange electorate to take a regional focus and in doing so, recognise each local area has its own diverse agriculture, horticulture, commerce and industries,” he said.
“We cannot have kids falling behind our coastal counterparts – there’s a vicious rumour that Malcolm Turnbull’s government is in fact working on seizing the Gonski funding and if we can properly allocate the funds to where it’s properly required, then I don’t think it will fall behind.”
With council amalgamations a core issue for departing member for Orange Andrew Gee, Mr Brakell said Cabonne Council had taken the right argument to the NSW Land and Environment Court to challenge the merger with Orange and Blayney, but he would seek to build a close relationship with the larger council if court action failed.
“There were issues with the way the current government disclosed or more importantly, didn’t disclose its proper intentions in enforcing amalgamations and certainly the government needs to be taken to task on its disclosure obligations,” he said.
“For the Cabonne shire and the Blayney shire, the fight would have to be taken to Orange City Council and the message would have to be clear we want fair representation on this council.”
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