Monday, 18 August 2014

Prominent environmentalist seeks preselection for Labor in Ballina

Keith Williams with baby Loggerhead Turtle
The Northern Star 22 January 2014

Australian Seabird Rescue Inc. treasurer and Ballina shire councillor Keith Williams, known to Twitter readers as Captain Turtle, is standing for pre-selection hoping to be Labor's candidate in the Ballina electorate at the 2015 NSW state election.

Media Release 13 August 2014:

Ballina Councillor Keith Williams has announced he will contest preselection for the Labor Party at the next State Election.

Mr Williams, 49, is best known for his work on our region's beaches and rivers rescuing Pelicans, sea turtles and other marine wildlife with Australian Seabird Rescue. He is married to Rochelle, daughter of Seabird Rescue founder, Lance Ferris, and father of 4 year old Finn.

A former CEO in the non-profit sector, Mr Williams says he has spent his life advocating for the disadvantaged, for better health services and for the development of industries that create jobs without trashing the environment.

"I joined the Labor Party 3 years ago because of my concern at the current state of politics in this Australia. I realised I could no longer sit on the sidelines. Labor has a proud history of achievements in Medicare, education, disability, the economy and the environment, but we also need to make a better, more responsive Labor Party to ensure this work continues."

"I am excited to take part in the first ever community preselection to occur in regional Australia. It shows, like the leadership ballots, that the Labor Party is changing. We are throwing open the doors to participation. The days of power being held in the hands of a few are coming to an end."

Mr Williams highlighted the campaign for a Coal Seam Gas Free Northern Rivers as an example of Labor listening to the community.  

"Just like many other members of this community, myself and other local Labor branch members have written letters, moved motions and lobbied senior political figures regarding our concerns about CSG.  This resulted in a unanimous resolution of the Party's State Conference that the Northern Rivers be declared CSG free. This is the policy we will take to the next election. We will give the people of the Northern Rivers a real choice."

Mr Williams said people should have no doubt about his commitment to both protect the environment and develop sustainable jobs. With a degree in Environmental Science majoring in Economics and as a former Executive Officer of the industry body Ecotourism Australia, Mr Williams says that the key is developing sustainable industries, "We do not have to accept high unemployment as a natural consequence of living in regional NSW. Too many families are struggling with part-time and low paid work."

Mr Williams cited his work as a Councillor in establishing the Port Ballina Taskforce, with its focus on dredging, rebuilding marine industries and improving river health as an example of his approach that is already bearing fruit. "We have made more progress on these issues in the last year than we had in the previous ten. We will see a dredge operating in Ballina again, we will have marina facilities and we are making real progress in helping our river recover from decades of neglect."

Mr Williams said he looked forward to the next six weeks as an opportunity to showcase a new approach from Labor. 

The NSW Labor Party announced on Friday the conduct of a Community Preselection to choose it's candidate for the State seat of Ballina. A Community preselection invites every enrolled voter in the electorate to have their say.  Participants will be able to vote online, via postal ballot or in person. The community vote is then weighted 50:50 with a vote of local members of the Labor Party.

Keith Williams

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