In case you needed reminding, it’s seven weeks and counting until the March 23 State Election.
And after a fairly slow start, things are finally starting to crank up.
Last week we only had Labor incumbent Jenny Aitchison officially in the contest for Maitland. But now that has changed.
In today’s edition we brought you the news that John Brown, a long time Maitland Green, will be running again.
And Sally Halliday’s endorsement as the Liberal candidate is a mere formality. It will be officially announced any day now.
And Amy Johnson will represent the Animal Justice Party. So, at the very least it’s a four-way contest.
It’s probably fair to say that Mr Brown – a former Maitland Mercury and Newcastle Herald journalist – knows his chances are slim. But he’ll take the opportunity to get the Green message out and hopefully raise awareness on solar panels, global warming and other issues close to his heart.
As a matter of fact the Greens have just released an initiative that would resonate with a lot of Maitland residents – they want to make it mandatory in NSW for livestock to have access to shade.
The initiative includes a $30 million support package to assist farmers with some of the costs of putting in shade structures and planting and fencing off shade trees and shelter belts.
The prospect of Ms Aitchison and Ms Halliday going head to head is intriguing.
Ms Aitchison has had some ding-dong battles with Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter Scot MacDonald in the last couple of years. For the neutral observer, it was entertaining stuff. It’s hard to imagine her battle with Ms Halliday being less challenging.
Just as Ms Aitchison has been a successful representative, Ms Halliday is a formidable adversary.
A teacher and former deputy mayor, she has conservative roots in Maitland that go back generations. Her great grandfather was Walter “Arthur” Howarth – a Maitland MP who held the state government seat from the Great Depression years through World War II.
In that regard we’re fortunate that all three candidates have genuine roots in the area – no ring-in candidates here.
So, no doubt we’ll be bringing you some policy stories in coming weeks. It promises to be a fascinating election, with polling showing the two major parties split 50:50 statewide at the moment. Buckle up folks.