ELDER STATESMAN: Former federal treasurer Wayne Swan spoke at a Labor event to support the party's candidate for Page Patrick Deegan at the Great Northern Hotel in South Grafton.
ELDER STATESMAN: Former federal treasurer Wayne Swan spoke at a Labor event to support the party's candidate for Page Patrick Deegan at the Great Northern Hotel in South Grafton. Adam Hourigan

Former Federal Treasurer takes aim at Page MP

HE WAS once voted the world's best treasurer, and elected as the next national president of the Australian Labor Party, and Wayne Swan wasted no time in his visit to Grafton attacking the record of the sitting local member while in town.

Mr Swan joined candidate for Page Patrick Deegan at a Labor Party event at the Great Northern Hotel on Thursday night, and wasted no time in attacking the government, and current Member for Page Kevin Hogan.

"This is an area like many National Party seats up the coasts on lower incomes which has been hit hard by the policies of the current government, and there's a lot of people who will benefit from the tax relief we will give them - much more than Mr Morrison would give them," he said.

"People on penalty rates have been smacked by the government's support of the cuts, as well as cuts to health and education."

Mr Swan said that areas like the Clarence need someone who is going to stand up and fight for them.

"I sit quite close to your local member and he doesn't look like he's doing a lot of fighting," he said.

On Mr Hogan's move to the crossbench, Mr Swan dismissed it as completely cosmetic.

"It's all Claytons. He wanders out of parliament and into the party room. The notion that he's somehow being independent to try and distance himself for the atrocities committed in the electorate won't wash," he said.

"Normally, when you have an independent, occasionally they'll get up and say something, no matter how effective or ineffective, but this guy has said he's independent and then shrinks, as opposed to expands."

Mr Hogan refuted the claims by Mr Swan, saying by his stood proudly by his record in delivering for the Clarence Valley.

He cited a long list of achievements including $4.15million for the upgrade of the Harwood Mill and Refinery, securing the jobs there, and $2.3million across both stages for Maclean Riverside Precinct upgrade.

He also pointed to record spending in aged care by more than $18m annually, $11m for local roads as well as funding for the new Romiaka Channel Bridge as well as record funding for the duplication of the Pacific Highway.

"Federal funding for health has increased from $64billion in 2013 to more than $79billion by 2019/20 - that's an increase of 23.4 per cent," he said.

"We are increasing funding in education from $12.9billion in 2013 to $30.6billion by 2027. This is a $17-billion increase - a massive new investment in education."

He questioned why Bill Shorten wanted small business to pay more than the big guys in regard to penalty rates.

"If you are a family-owned cafe or takeaway shop you have to pay $8 per hour more for your workers on a Sunday compared with McDonalds or KFC," he said.

"Many of our local small shops, pharmacies and takeaways find it too expensive to open on Sundays and can't compete against the giant retail chains."

On his move to the crossbench, Mr Hogan said anything Mr Swan said on the issue was hypocritical.

"If a Labor member had moved to the crossbench, they would have been immediately expelled," he said.



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