On the weekend, The Nationals preselected Port Macquarie lawyer Patrick Conaghan to stand for the party in the seat of Cowper at the next federal election. He has deep family roots in the region, and the experience to suggest he would make a great representative for the electorate if he is successful. Patrick was born and raised in Kempsey, in the heart of Cowper, where his father was a much-respected doctor. His early career was as a police officer and police prosecutor, and he has been a solicitor for the past 18 years. Patrick also served a four-and-a-half year term as a councillor of North Sydney Council when he was a young lawyer. Local government is one of the best possible training grounds for would-be members of parliament. He now lives in Port Macquarie with his wife Ilona and two sons.
His priorities are agriculture, small business, and employment opportunity, especially for young people. He emphasises the creation of greater opportunities for our youth, and, especially in the Port Macquarie area, strong attention on aged care. This is a refreshingly real-world set of priorities, not the issues of identity politics that dominate so much political debate. Inherent in his priorities is recognition of the need for a strong economy so agriculture, small business, job opportunities, and world class services for all Australians, can be delivered. That is as sound a base for good local representation as there can be, and I wish Patrick well.