NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley today announced Martin Rush as the Country Labor candidate for Upper Hunter in next year’s State Election as Labor’s campaign of putting schools and hospitals before stadiums hits the road.

Mr Foley visited the Upper Hunter on Tuesday as part of his Schools and Hospitals before Stadiums tour of the state.

Mr Foley said the long-time local and experienced local politician had the right credentials to take on the Nationals in the seat as the Liberal- National Government stubbornly presses ahead with its decision to splurge $2.7 billion on Sydney stadiums.

Mr Foley has been visiting towns across the state to highlight the Berejiklian-Barilaro Government’s wrong priorities from wasting hundreds of millions of dollars on the Sydney light rail project and WestConnex toll road to ripping the guts out of TAFE and failing to invest in education generally.

Mr Foley said the decision to spend billions of dollars on knocking down and rebuilding two Sydney stadiums while 100,000 children are being taught in demountables and elective surgery waiting lists are at record highs is the height of irresponsibility.

Mr Rush has been a fierce advocate for protecting agricultural land, for a return of State Government mineral royalties to the Upper Hunter, for TAFE, jobs and for hospitals and health services. 

From 2000 to 2003, he worked as a solicitor in private practice – principally performing legal-aid work on rural court circuits. Since 2004, Martin has practiced as a barrister in commercial, industrial and safety law.  He has been the Mayor of Muswellbrook since 2008.

Mr Rush and Country Labor recorded one of the largest swings against the National Party at the last election of 20.8 per cent turning the seat into a marginal one

The National Party has decimated regional TAFEs, slashing the number of available courses across regional NSW. Mr Rush said we should be training locals for local jobs; instead, the National Party has slashed training opportunities for our most important future asset – young Australians.

Contract labour in the mining industry has increased almost 40 per cent since the National Party came to office and Mr Rush pledged to fight to ensure that mining jobs are permanent, full-time and local. The threat of further contractualisation of the mining work force is real as it impacts on the security of work creating unnecessary stress on families and local communities.

Quotes attributable to NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley

“I’m delighted to have a candidate like Martin Rush running for the Upper Hunter electorate. He has shown his conviction and commitment to the local community over a number of years and he will make a great addition to Labor’s strong line up of candidates.

“The Upper Hunter will have a clear choice come next March – a government that puts Sydney stadiums before our children’s’ education and our families’ health, or Labor which will always put schools and hospitals before stadiums.

“The Upper Hunter community deserves much more than what it is getting under the Nationals, who have shown they are just a rubber stamp for their Sydney-centric Liberal partners.”

Quotes attributable to Labor Candidate for the Upper Hunter Martin Rush

 “I look forward to being part of a strong Labor team in country NSW; a team that has a progressive and fair plan for rural and regional communities.

“I have lived in country NSW my entire life. The Labor Party was forged in rural Australia and we have many supporters in the bush. Every day I’m seeing more and more workers reconnecting with Labor’s core values of a fair go for all.

“I will be fighting to stop the National Party dismantling government services in rural and regional NSW by cutting education, health, and emergency service budgets.

“The National Party has proven it can’t be trusted in government. It promised to protect agricultural land and provide certainty for the future of the coal industry but, instead, it has increased uncertainty for landholders and the approval times for coal mining development has blown out to three and a half years in some cases.

“At a time when employment in the mining and energy sector in the Upper Hunter is increasingly uncertain it is absolutely imperative strategic land use planning is undertaken upfront to provide all industries investment and development certainty. 

“We should be investing in intensive agriculture and drought proofing our farms – instead the dairy and other intensive agricultural industries are vanishing under the National Party.”