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The Stayers

Susan Jenvey, a Country Conference delegate, has provided a report on the Conference. Thanks to Susan and everyone else who attended.

The delegates from Oxley – Karen Wilson, Margaret Morgan, and me – headed together to NSW Country Conference looking for altruistic Labor.

Our Conference is about those gentle and inspired people who speak to our Labor values. Those whose focus is people. Those who still carry forward the values and the strong environmental credentials of the Carr and Wran Labor governments.

And with Oxley’s high rates of unemployment and its lack of access to well-paying jobs with good superannuation, we also wanted to know – where is the jobs guarantee for our community?

We weren’t disappointed when we got to Singleton. We heard from exceptional people: the Bush Fire Recovery Panel; Imogen from Young Labor on mental health; the whistleblowing TAFE teacher. We discussed the importance of continuing to support harm reduction policies around AIDS, and debated urgency motions on climate change and domestic violence.

We heard Senator Tim Ayres use language to challenge Barnaby Joyce’s ‘weatherboard and iron’ rhetoric. Tim empowers us to take these words outwards, and to keep exposing the Nationals’ idiocracy.

Jodi spoke really well, recognising TAFE as an integral hub for regional communities.

Swanny was getting on with solving the bloody problem of climate change.

On rules, Paul Sefky spoke like an elder on governance, telling us we’ve come a long way in the wake of Lavarch. He commended the work that Bob Nanva, George Simon and Mark Lennon were doing to hold a magnifying glass to the process.

We had many important moments to connect and discuss. Anthony D’Adam proved to be good at listening. Jihad Dib was backgrounded on Nambucca’s Connected Learning TAFE. Gift horse or trojan horse for privatisation? Negotiations were had on the side with Asren Pugh and Paul Skully over logging and preserving habitat. Mick Veitch was given some country roads intel from us via the amazing Amanda McCormack. And we sat with Tim from LEAN, who had spent a fair bit of time working with the AMWU to draft the urgency motion on climate change. A good conversation was had with Mick Veitch the next day over the lack of depth in the economies of our country towns. This has already proved useful in arguing for better planning outcomes in Bowraville.

In the front bar, Matt Martin and Kate Stewart said, “Whadya got?” “Koalas, forests, bushfires and climate emergency”, I said. That’s a lot – but luckily, during the conference Albo put the bush on the starting line to the election.

Singleton branch’s BBQ dinner at the pub exceeded our expectations – a big thank you to them for hosting. At the dinner, Michael Daley, who calls me “Kempsey”, came over to have a hug. We remain impressed that Michael is the only Labor leader since Wran to come to Kempsey.

We loved the chance to connect with our country comrades, especially our neighbours from Armidale, Taree, Coffs, Port and Grafton.

There’s a photo somewhere of Karen, Margaret and myself. It includes Trish Doyle and Bob Nanva, and others from the bush fire panel. It’s called, “The Stayers”. And that’s who we are!

Susan Jenvey


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