- Name: Philip Donato.
- Political party: Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party.
- Age: 46.
- Family: Beautiful wife and five boys aged 15 to 21.
- Where do you live? Orange.
- What do you do for a living? Member of Parliament.
- How long have you lived in the Orange electorate? I lived in Millthorpe until recently, which is a stone's throw away from Orange. My wife and I moved the family from Sydney in 2005 where I worked as a police prosecutor across Parkes, Forbes, Orange, Bathurst, Dubbo and Mudgee until being elected as member for Orange in the 2016 byelection.
- What is the best part of living in the Orange electorate? It’s cliché, but the people are. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet thousands of constituents across our electorate in my work as a police prosecutor and now Member of Parliament. They are what makes us a true community – where you know everyone by name and everyone is a neighbour. The food, wine, and sport is great too.
- Why are you running for the state seat of Orange? Because I want to keep the focus on our region. Under the National party we were being let down by complacent representation. It is highly likely that neither major party will secure Government this election, which means we need.
VIDEO: Phil Donato's pitch to the Orange electorate ...
- In the past couple of years Orange has received far less government funding than the Bathurst and Dubbo electorates. How do you propose to redress that imbalance and, if elected, what would you spend the money on? Our electorate needs someone who can hold both major parties to account given that it is very likely neither side will form government in their own right. I will never be in opposition which means that I can work with and hold to account the Coalition and Labor. To get my support on the floor of Parliament the major parties would have to commit to flood proofing the Newell Highway, improved road and rail connectivity between Sydney and Central West, and continued and increased drought assistance for our farmers. These are just a few things I will be fighting for.
- The new XPTs are in the pipeline, but there have been no meaningful commitments on track upgrades to straighten the line between Orange and Bathurst. Meanwhile, the push to extend the Bathurst Bullet train to Orange and build servicing facilities for the train here is yet to yield results. If elected, what will you do about these much-needed service upgrades? Making this a reality with hard cash pledged towards these projects would be a part of my list of demands to the Government of the day.
Since being elected I’ve managed to secure 10 additional police and whilst this is not the only solution to our electorates ice and illegal drug issues, it goes a long way to making sure that the community is protected.
- The Northern Distributor Road is taking the lion's share of Orange's freight traffic now. If elected, will you fight to make the Northern Distributor Road a regional road to shore up its maintenance funding, and if not, what will you do to ensure Orange City Council receives help to maintain it? Yes.
- If elected, what measures would you support to tackle to ice and illegal drug issues in Orange? Is the solution as simple as increasing the number of police in the city? I would continue the good work we have been able to achieve with police and community groups in securing more frontline police and funding. Since being elected I’ve managed to secure 10 additional police and whilst this is not the only solution to our electorates ice and illegal drug issues, it goes a long way to making sure that the community is protected. I’m in regular contact and work closely with community groups like PCYC and Clontaff who do a fantastic job of helping youth.
- Do you support the proposed Mount Canobolas mountain bike trail centre? If so, and if elected, how will you help Orange get the required funding to make the project a reality? Yes, I support this. I organised a meeting between the Minister for Environment and Heritage and the Mayor to start the process of getting this project off the ground. Again, whatever the final figure is to get this fully funded I will fight for every last penny from the government of the day.
- If elected, will you support replacing the palliative care 12-month trial with a full-time facility, and with more than the current four beds? Yes. This was one of my main priorities since being elected and I am proud of the fact we were able to secure a dedicated four-bed inpatient palliative care unit. In the Parliament I will work just as hard to secure a full-time facility.
POLL: Have your say …
Poll conducted by polldaddy
- What are the major issues facing the villages and small communities in the Orange electorate, and if elected, what steps would you take to improve them? In the main it is a lack of services and the terrible impacts of the drought not just on farmers but the small businesses and towns that rely on agriculture. It is no secret that a safe seat doesn’t enjoy as much attention and therefore misses out on services and funding. We’ve been able to turn that around and if elected, I am looking forward to fighting for increased health, government, police and support services for our smaller towns. In regards to the drought, as I stated above I will work to increase and continue the drought support that we were able to force the government to deliver.
- If elected, what measures would you introduce to decrease the up to six-week-long waiting lists for people seeking support for mental health issues in Orange? I’ve been very vocal about the pressures and capacity of our mental health facilities like the Child Adolescent Mental health unit in Orange that services the needs of five Local Health Districts and covers the majority of NSW. The fact is we need more beds, more staff and more incentives for doctors and nurses to come and work in Orange.
I am not an apologist for any government or political party.
- The crippling effects of the drought continue to be felt in the Orange electorate. Assuming you are elected and the drought continues, what relief measures would you fight for in the first weeks and months of your term? I forced the Liberal Nationals to deliver drought freight subsidies and drought relief funding months before it was on the Government’s radar. But this isn’t enough. Being on the cross-bench, both major parties would be looking for my support in a hung Parliament and increased drought funding for farmers and small local businesses would be a precondition of securing my support on the floor of Parliament.
- There is a possibility the next state Parliament will have a conscience vote on decriminalising abortion in NSW. Where do you stand on this issue? Our party’s policy is a conscience vote on this issue therefore I would survey the entirety of our electorate and vote according to the wishes of the majority.
- Orange has an enormous amount of early education-aged children. If elected, what would you do to help families tackle the growing cost of day care? I will work with whatever Minister or bureaucrat I have to, to ensure further day care relief for families is given. Raising five young boys I understand the pressures that parents, particularly young families, face when it comes to balance work and family.
- If elected, would you be willing to speak and vote against your party's policies and platforms if if was clear that the majority of the Orange electorate's constituents held a contrary belief? Unlike the major parties I don’t have to toe the party line. I think I have proved this by speaking out on issues that a National party member would have been told to be silent on. I am not an apologist for any government or political party.
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