HE will face a very different political landscape in March to the one before the Orange byelection, but Labor candidate Luke Sanger is determined to put his party back on the map.
Country Labor usually runs second in Orange after The Nationals at state elections, but the election of Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party candidate Phil Donato at the November 2016 byelection pushed the party to third.
Mr Sanger said he wanted to be a local voice in a Labor government.
“I think Orange could be so much more than what it is at the moment – one of my mantras is making Orange the central hub for the central west rather than Bathurst or Dubbo,” the branch president said.
Certainly public schooling is not for everyone and that’s where TAFE is needed.Labor candidate for Orange Luke Sanger
“Everyone loves an underdog – if I didn’t think I was in with a fighting chance, I wouldn’t have put my name up and we want to let everyone know that the Orange Labor branch is here and we are listening and we do care.”
A past Orange City Council candidate, Mr Sanger moved to Orange at the age of 12 before a 10-year stint in Tweed Heads when he turned 18.
Now 38, Mr Sanger and wife Holly have two children: Sian, 7, and Myles, 4.
TAFE will be a top priority for Mr Sanger, who was among the first in the region to complete his HSC, including a Certificate II in tourism and hospitality from TAFE, through the Pathways program.
“[At TAFE] you were treated more like a person than a number, you got on a first-name basis with most of your teachers, you were treated like an adult – certainly public schooling is not for everyone and that’s where TAFE is needed,” he said.
He also completed a welding certificate and front-end mechanics, but believed the state government’s gradual move to private training providers would not afford young people the same opportunities because courses cost more.
“There was one, which was the cabler’s licence, you could actually do that in Orange and Bathurst now it’s only available in Bathurst and it’s only available once the TAFE has the students to make the course,” he said.
“You have to do it through the private sector and you have to do it online if you needed it now, or you can travel to Sydney, which can run into the tens of thousands of dollars by the time you add accommodation and fuel.”
Now the owner of Tuned In Audio Visual, Mr Sanger said red tape for small business was a concern because he had to lodge similar information several times.
“It’s very time-consuming and it’s done on a yearly basis so it’s something that takes you away from the business,” he said.
“I think a lot more people would consider starting their own business if it was a bit more streamlined – the more people we have in business, the better it is for the economy and the happier people will be because they’re doing something they love.”
The planned $30 million CBD upgrade could also factor into the campaign, with Mr Sanger hoping to secure funds.
“Certainly $30 million is a lot to come up with but if I can help in any way in getting some funding, I’ll certainly fight for that,” he said.
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