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SSC Newspaper : March 2014
6 Strathfield Scene NEWS MARCH 2014 As Strathfield MP Charles Casuscelli drives up to his electorate office on Burwood Road, the skies open and it pours. He runs into the office, donning a pair of jeans and Asics sneakers – a very different kind of uniform from the grey suits the Liberal MP is regularly seen in. It is a year this month before voters head to the polls for the next NSW state election – and Mr Casuscelli’s job for today is to hit the campaign trail. He is determined to get a head start on his competitors – even though, right now, there aren’t any. Labor will be opening up a community preselection “soon”, says the party. While the names of MLC Luke Foley and even Strathfield Mayor Daniel Bott have been mentioned – Mr Foley did not return calls but Cr Bott ruled out a run this time – there is one that stands out. The man who some believe could cause a major political upset if he can be tempted to stand is Burwood Mayor John Faker. His community reach is deep, he has served many years in the Inner West and, despite what political pundits call “baggage”, he has a fiercely loyal following. Mr Faker, too, refused to return calls. But one political veteran said: “He’s their best hope of a win.” The Greens will not choose a candidate until later this year, but at least one independent is considering a run. The man who vanquished Inner West icon and former Labor minister Virginia Judge, four times a mayor of Strathfield, will be secretly hoping Mr Faker decides to stay on at Burwood. Just 3473 votes separated him from veteran Ms Judge, who had held the seat for eight years. The swing to Mr Casuscelli was 10.5 per cent. But the O’Farrell Government’s planning law changes, WestConnex and the amalgamation threat may have done some damage to Liberal support. Mr Casuscelli concedes some are unhappy with the decisions the Liberal government has made, but he wants to remind constituents that they will see the benefits in the long term. He is a major advocate for the WestConnex project – the jury is still out on whether that will be a political plus. The communication of the project has been poor, and those who will lose their homes are up in arms. It hasn’t been an easy road for Mr Casuscelli, an enthusiastic local member who works hard at his local connections and attends every event he can. One year to go, Casuscelli starts his run while Labor’s candidates play their cards close to their chests Strathfield MP Charles Casuscelli goes doorknocking – he began his campaign in October In brief SOCHI FALLOUT Danielle ponders her future Strathfield’s dynamic ice-dancing duo, Danielle O’Brien and Greg Merriman, gave a rip-roaring performance in the final heat of the free program at the Sochi Winter Olympics. The two were placed 20th in the opening heat. In the free program, they performed a routine with choreography and music inspired by the circus. “ We definitely had fun,” said O’Brien. The pair is unsure of what the future holds for them but will compete at the World Championships. SOLAR Sun-powered safety lights Traditional globes used to light up The Crescent in Flemington will be replaced with solar lighting later this month as part of the council’s Community Safety upgrades. Energy-efficient and powerful LED globes will be installed to the northern pedestrian pathway from Richmond Road to the Flemington Railway Station. The move follows the replacement of traditional globes in Homebush West Car Park. Mayor Daniel Bott said using solar globes improved lighting quality and visibility and reduced costs. COMMUNITY Health group holds green event The Inner West Public Health Unit will be holding more environmental health activities this year. Among the issues that will be targeted are health risks from public pools, outbreaks of legionella and food-borne diseases, preventing the transmission of blood-borne diseases and air quality. CHARITY Bald and beautiful Strathfield woman Nina Conti, who one year ago discovered a cancerous lump in her armpit, is holding a charity ball to raise money for the McGrath Foundation. After a year-long battle, Conti found out this month that she was cancer-free and is hoping to celebrate life at the Bald and Beautiful dinner dance. It will be held on Saturday, March 8, from 6.30pm at La Mirage, Five Dock. Tickets are $100 per person. For bookings call 0419 202 988. Sitting on the backbench of Premier Barry O’Farrell’s government, he has angered several senior ministers and MPs after he told The Sydney Morning Herald that he believed the state government should oust older members of Parliament to bring in “fresh blood”. But he is not apologetic. He still plays an integral role in Parliament – he is the chair of the Legislative Assembly Committee on Transport and Infrastructure and was also appointed as co-chair of three ministerial consultative committees representing the Korean, Chinese and Russian communities. “I am proud to say that this committee [Transport and Infrastructure] has come up with some great ideas, which Parliament has taken up,” he says. “For example, it was my idea to put clearways on Parramatta Road and move the parking behind businesses. And Parliament has taken up the idea and turned it into an inquiry.” As we drive to the Homebush Road, the heartland of Strathfield, he tells the Scene he believes that the 2015 state election will be more challenging than the last. “I have a gut feeling that this will be a harder fight in 2015,” he says. “There are a few varying factors, like the demographics of the suburbs have changed. For example, in North Burwood, it used to be predominantly families but now it is full of young students, some of whom may be international students. But also, I’m unsure of where the preferences of people’s votes will go. “This all just means that I have to work a lot harder and smarter to make sure that I am re-elected.” So as a result of his instinct, Mr Casuscelli started his campaigning in October last year. He has been doorknocking the residential streets of Strathfield, Ashfield and Burwood and makes regular appearances at the shopping centres and train stations. Like all candidates, he has been asking people what their problems are, and how he can help fix them. So what is currently on the minds of the voters? “I find the people in my electorate are generally happy and content people. For them, besides from the WestConnex, they are more concerned about local issues. “For the people in Strathfield, it’s about the Town Centre and Enfield; in Burwood, it’s about a development application for Flower Power. But the topic that always comes up in every area, throughout my term, is traffic congestion. But it is still early days.” He starts his doorknocking on Elwin Street, Strathfield. It’s noon and the rain is still coming down but Mr Casuscelli charges on. “The reason I do this is because voters say to me: we only see all you politicians around the election period,” he says. “But I am trying to dispel that. I am trying to show my constituents that I am here and I’ve always been here to listen to them and to help them.” Burwood Mayor John Faker Ihaveagut feeling that this will be a harder fight in 2015 Charles Casuscelli