NSW Labor Leader Luke Foley and the Country Labor team welcomed Charlie Sheahan today as the Country Labor candidate for the Cootamundra by-election.

Charlie is a true Cootamundra local. A farm manager, Charlie and his wife, Sue, raised their three kids in Cootamundra.

Charlie is an active member of his community. A former President of the local Lions Club and volunteer with the local Rural Fire Service, Charlie has the experience and local understanding necessary to really stand up for Cootamundra.

In Gundagai today Mr Foley also called on the Berejiklian-Barilaro Government to hold plebiscites to allow locals to vote for voluntary de-mergers on the same day as the forthcoming by-election.

Over the weekend Cootamundra residents made their voices heard on the issue of forced council amalgamations, with anti-merger candidates dominating the poll for the Cootamundra-Gundagai Regional Council.

Labor's fight to allow for voluntary de-mergers in councils that have been forcibly merged has clearly resonated with voters and locals will get another chance to express their view on the 14th October 2017 at the Cootamundra by-election.

Yesterday in the NSW Parliament, Nationals Leader and Deputy Premier John Barilaro refused to answer whether or not he would allow for a de-merger plebiscite on the day of the Cootamundra by-election to create a standalone Gundagai council.

Labor has undertaken to legislate to allow for voluntary de-mergers, and Mr Foley has provided a letter to the local community confirming this commitment.

Quotes attributable to NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley

“We are very proud to have Charlie Sheahan as Country Labor’s candidate for the seat of Cootamundra.

“Charlie understands the community and has the determination to fight for a better deal for the people of the Cootamundra.

“Last weekend voters here in Cootamundra – and across NSW – overwhelmingly rejected the Liberal and Nationals’ policy of forced council mergers.

“I want, and the community wants, the State government to conduct a plebiscite with voters participating in the upcoming by-election on whether they want their council to remain merged.

“Labor will allow local plebiscites on de-merging these councils.

“Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Nationals Leader John Barilaro should respect voters by allowing them to have a say in how their community is governed.”

Quotes attributable to Labor Candidate for Cootamundra Charlie Sheahan

“I’m honoured to be selected as Country Labor’s candidate for the upcoming by-election.

“I’ve lived here all my life and I know how much Cootamundra has suffered under the Nationals.

“Cootamundra needs someone who understands the local area and who will fight against the privatisation of regional hospitals and forced council mergers. Cootamundra needs someone who will fight for local jobs and better aged care, especially home care. 

“It’s time we sent the Berejiklian government and those Nationals up in Sydney a message.

“Labor will keep our hospitals in public hands and secure funding for regional health services.”