darren.chester.mp@aph.gov.au 1300 131 785
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August 19, 2013

Asylum seekers, local jobs, public transport, road funding and the state of the national budget are the five biggest issues Gippslanders have raised with Federal MP Darren Chester in a recent survey.

Mr Chester distributed a survey to every household in Gippsland in June and received 3000 responses to a wide range of local, State and Federal issues.

“In response to the unprompted question about the most important challenges facing our nation, Gippslanders had a firm view that border protection and processing of asylum seekers was the most critical concern,” Mr Chester said.

“Given that almost 50,000 people have arrived by boat since Kevin Rudd was first elected in 2007, it’s not surprising that people are concerned about the social and economic costs of this issue and it will be a challenge for any future government to regain control of our nation’s borders.”

Mr Chester said there was a lot of interest in transport issues, particularly the state of local roads and highways, and some anxiety about the return of the train service to Sale and Bairnsdale.

“I’ve been working hard to attract additional funding for local roads and I’m hopeful there will be a positive announcement on this issue during the election campaign,” Mr Chester said.

“In addition, I’ve received a briefing from the State Minister for Transport on the train issue and have been reassured that train services will resume as soon as possible.

“At the moment, workers are replacing 20,000 sleepers and the grinding machine is expected to commence work in September ahead of the return of the train service by late October.”

Mr Chester said he believed that securing local jobs and providing stability and certainty to the national budget were critical areas for the next Federal Government to focus on.

“Over the past five years I’ve continually promoted local businesses with my ‘Putting Locals First’ campaign and also fought for jobs in our traditional industries like power generation, timber production, paper manufacturing and commercial fishing.

“The Federal Government has a responsibility to provide the right economic environment for businesses to prosper and one of the best things we can do is to reduce red tape, purchase locally made goods and encourage small business owners to employ more local people.”

The Gippsland wide survey also provided locals with an opportunity to provide feedback on a wide range of contentious issues including Labor’s carbon tax; work for the dole; the National Broadband Network (NBN); the CSG industry; same-sex marriage; duck hunting; and the importation of food from foreign countries.

Key results included:
* Labor’s carbon tax has little support in Gippsland with 77 per cent of respondents indicating that they oppose it;
* Work for the dole should be compulsory according to 84 per cent of respondents;
* Two-thirds of respondents don’t want to pay more for their internet through the NBN;
* No clear-cut position from respondents on the CSG industry with 37 per cent highlighting their support, 47 per cent against and 16 per cent undecided;
* A majority of respondents, 66 per cent, opposing same-sex marriage and 26 per cent supporting;
* Duck hunting receiving the support of 60 per cent of respondents;
* Concerns over food being imported from foreign countries was recognised as a problem by 96 per cent of respondents.

“A survey like this is not scientific or definitive in its results but it does provide some guide to the way people are thinking on different issues in Gippsland,” Mr Chester said.

“The feedback I’ve received will assist me in fulfilling my role as a Member of the House of Representatives should I be re-elected on September 7.

“I would like to thank everyone who took the time to complete the survey questions and provide comments on national and local issues of concern to them.”

A full breakdown of Mr Chester’s survey is available on his website at www.darrenchester.com

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