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SSC Newspaper : April 2011
upwardly mobile action man “ We moved 17 times and I really don’t want to go through that again.” That explains her reluctance to sell the family home in Five Dock and move into the Strathfield electorate – an upheaval she regards as unnecessary given their close proximity. “If I thought it would make a real difference to Charles’ work in Strathfield then, of course, we would move,” she said. “But I don’t feel it will impact on his role.” Despite being her husband’s biggest fan – “ he’s such a great guy, very intelligent and a brilliant handyman” – Mrs Casuscelli said she’d be keeping up the pressure on the new MP for Strathfield. “I’ve already told him the work has only just begun,” she said. “ You should be in campaign mode for the next four years; it’s no good starting your campaign in the last few minutes.” With his background in market research, transport management and the NRMA (as general manager) Mrs Casuscelli has every confidence her husband will be an effective local member for the people of Strathfield. “He’s a very gifted man,” she said. “I don’t think there’s anything that he can’t achieve if he puts his mind to it.” By peter lynch Strathfield’s new Liberal MP will launch a forum for inner-west councils so they can co-operate in order to better solve major infrastructure problems. Charles Casuscelli revealed exclusively to The Scene that he has already received support from two, and plans to discuss the concept with the remaining two councils shortly. Casuscelli, who ousted Labor minister Virginia Judge last month with a huge swing, said the infrastucture forum would involve the mayors and general managers of Strathfield, Burwood, Ashfield and Canterbury. It would provide a platform to discuss common problems and produce a better way to communicate with the State Government. Casuscelli, a transport expert expected to find an early place in the new O’Farrell administration, said he was aware that amalgamation was a significant issue among inner-west councils. But he denied the forum was the precursor to an amalgamation play, and stressed that without support across the area, it would be hard to win funds from the State Government. “ The forum I am creating has nothing to do with council boundaries,” he told The Scene. “It has every thing to do with the fact that we all share common problems and issues. If we want to fix them, we’ve got to work together.” Strathfield Mayor Tony Maroun supported the idea, and said it was a encouraging to hear that Casuscelli and the new State Government were eager to address issues in Strathfield and the inner west. “ This council lobbied the previous State Government for solutions to a number of issues, including trying to get a fully functional police station in Strathfield, but unfortunately to no avail,” Cr Maroun said. “It seems that we’re now going to have a platform to make representations to the State Government on behalf of our community, and that’s a great first step.” Casuscelli said he was initially planning to invite mayors and general managers, but was open to others, including councillors, joining the forum. It would involve discussing all issues, including policing and transport as well as major infrastructure. Law and order was a classic problem which needed co-operation, he maintained. “ We have a justice precinct in Bur wood that technically doesn’t respond to issues in Strathfield and Homebush, who constantly tell people to go to Auburn,” Casuscelli said. “I need local government people in the same forum talking about law and order because it’s an area-wide issue.” He insisted he would make the forum politics-free. “ When they walk through the door they park the party they belong to outside the door. I’m not there representing the Liberal party – I’m there representing the State Government of the day,” he said. “As soon as it starts becoming overly politicised I’ll just shut it down.” Casuscelli said he assumed he’d chair the forum, and added that if the inner west was to get state backing for major infrastructure spending such as the M4 East, councils needed to demonstrate they would work together. “ When I go to Barry O’Farrell and say, ‘Barry, I know the RTA has given you advice that the F3/M2 link is more important than the M4 East, but we are not talking about the sheer economics of the issue, we are talking about the quality of life for a large amount of people in the inner west’, if I can say, ‘I’ve got five local government areas supporting this’, all he’s going to think about is that all of our local issues are taken care of and we can deliver.” On amalgamation, Casuscelli said he was happy to support the sharing of “back office synergies” and common tendering for common services, but believes the communities need to have their own identities. He said: “If councils voluntarily wanted to amalgamate because they thought it was in their best interests, what’s the problem?” What do you think of Charles’ initiatives? Let us know at www.ourstrathfield.com .au Let’s work together to get things done When Strathfield’s Liberal candidate Charles Casuscelli romped to victory in the state election, no-one celebrated with as much enthusiasm as his wife Marie. She said: “Oh, it was so exciting! “ We worked really hard in the election campaign. I’d never doorknocked or handed out leaflets in my life, so it was a really new experience for me.” Mrs Casuscelli, 48, has added the duties of political spouse to her normal 70-hour working week at N’tice – a CBD coffee shop she owns with sister-in-law Rosie Garzaniti. “ We went into this as a family,” she said. “Both my daughters [Eleisha, 24, and Bianca, 21] worked on the election. We’re a family that stands together. We have faith. If you’re on a path things will happen and doors will open.” Despite coming from a non-political background, Mrs Casuscelli threw herself into grassroots campaigning, doorknocking across the electorate and winning hearts and minds in the Tamil, Korean, Chinese, Indian and Lebanese communities. “I’ve never had strong political affiliations – but I do now,” she laughed. Mrs Casuscelli says being an army wife – Charles was a major in the Australian Army for many years – was the perfect preparation for life in NSW politics. “ We had an amazing life, but it had its challenges,” she said. I’m his biggest fan: Marie Casuscelli is tipped to move quickly up the ranks of the O’Farrell government, thanks to his expertise in transport and major project management. Insiders say he might even be made a parliamentary secretary, possibly within a few weeks. Strathfield’s new MP played a part in the Liberals’ review of speed limits and the way in which incidents are handled on our public roads. Strathfield Scene 5 “We all share common problems and issues. if we want to fix them, we’ve got to work together,”– Strathfield MP Charles Casuscelli news www.ourstrathfield.com.au Behind every successful man ... introducing your new MP’s better half Ready to roll: Charles Casuscelli believes unity among inner west councils will achieve improved infrastructure and, crucially, State Government support Casuscelli plans to make good on his vow to press State Treasurer Mike Baird to fast-track the Strathfield Town Centre project, the council having asked for $600,000 to prepare their masterplan for further submission. He supports re-instatement of a fully funded police station. He’s drawn up detailed plans for three road intersections to improve traffic flow, using a $10 million fund. The plans involve Arthur Street and Centenary Drive, Homebush, Parramatta Road, Wentworth Road and Shaftesbury Road, Burwood, and reinstating the third lane westbound on the M4. Marie Casuscelli charles in charge