The gloves are already off as Bathurst councillor Dr Jess Jennings announced he has been endorsed as the Australian Labor Party candidate for the seat of Calare at September’s federal election.
Dr Jennings says he already loves local politics and sees federal politics as an extension of that.
As a specialist consultant of 15 years, he is concerned that agriculture in the region is getting a raw deal, which has been instrumental in his decision to stand for the seat of Calare.
“To me, farmers have been totally and utterly betrayed by John Cobb,” he said.
He said the sitting member did not understand the entire climate change debate.
“At the Anti-Carbon Tax Rally, John Cobb was the only person who repeatedly used the words ‘I don’t know’,” Dr Jennings said.
“For an elected representative that’s absolutely disgusting.”
Dr Jennings said the federal member should, in fact, be proactive in learning all he can about the topic in order to ensure farmers got a better deal and a positive future.
“He has failed the rural communities that he serves,” Dr Jennings said.
“On top of that, the state coalition has been decimating the Department of Primary Industries in NSW, the Livestock, Health and Pest Authority, the Catchment Management Authority and the Landcare Network. I’d hate to see them do the same thing federally.
“The Nationals are also joining forces in favour of coal seam mining and natural gas mining in Calare, and everyone should be concerned about that.”
Dr Jennings agreed Mr Cobb had a strong support base in Calare but intended to fight the good fight.
“I think it’s a long shot for me, but I am keen to give people a strong policy-based campaign and an opportunity to build a future powered by a clean energy economy, which is something John Cobb does not understand,” he said.
“John is a career political hack. He is interested in the politics of spin, but not actual policy. I’m super keen to debate him in public.”
Dr Jennings, who has just turned 40, has a small property at The Lagoon and works as a private consultant in agriculture and natural resource management.
He did not believe there would be any problem with serving in both local and federal government.
“Rather I see it as a perfect balance,” he said.
“Local government is what keeps my feet on the ground. If I have the opportunity to do both I will be delighted.”
He said if he is unsuccessful this time around he will use the experience and exposure for a future run at federal politics.