Independent candidate for Wagga Wagga Paul Funnell says he will put “people before politics” if elected to the seat.
“My concern is that our main political parties are putting politics before people, and people are collateral damage,” he said.
“You’ve got the different factions of the Liberal Party fighting each other, the National Party being told ‘you are not allowed to enter a candidate’. People are being denied their right of democratic process.”
Mr Funnell has been serving on Wagga Wagga Council since being elected in September 2012, and he is an irrigator and mixed farmer who is also an elected director of Riverina Local Land Services. He is expected to formally announce his candidacy today.
He is an unabashed conservative, and was a former leader of the Democratic Labor Party. He vastly prefers the Liberal-National coalition to Labor, but has plenty of issues with the NSW Government.
“The Liberal Party has taken the people for granted, and everything is dictated from Sydney. There isn’t an alternative voice. Politicians are supposed to represent the people to government, not the other way around,” he said.
“Look at Tumut Hospital – how many years has it been promised that there would be a new hospital built? The timber industry, which is so important in the Tumut area, is 30 years behind because the infrastructure is not in place. Also, look at the Brindabella Road issue. “I read the other day (in the Tumut and Adelong Times) that the government gave the Tumut Men’s Shed $1000 for new carpet. Those men have worked so hard all their working lives and what does the government give them? $1000 to keep their feet warm in Tumut!”
Mr Funnell plans to hold a public forum in Tumut in the lead up to the next state election.
“In Wagga we have a raft of issues,” he said.
“The government gives us crumbs from the table, while giving projects in Sydney billions of dollars.”
Mr Funnell said that he appreciates the value of towns like Tumut and will recognise this should he gain the seat.
“I am from a small town, West Wyalong, and I’m a great believer in smaller towns and villages, as the state also relies on them,” he said.
“I can’t stand the city centric mentality.
“I will fight for the people and give them the representation they deserve, as I have done in my time on council.”