FOR a relative newcomer to Orange, Andrew Gee has had a meteoric rise through the ranks of the NSW Nationals.
Problem is, most people in the electorate don’t know who he is and what he’s all about.
“But if getting into Parliament was just about public profile, it would be just like Australian Idol,” Mr Gee said.
“If that’s the way it was, you’d have some good Whitney Houston power ballads coming out of Macquarie Street but you wouldn’t necessarily get the right people to secure services for the region.
“I think you’ve got to give the electorate more credit.
“I think they look at what a candidate is saying, they don’t just vote for someone because they’ve been around for a long time.”
Mr Gee and his family moved to Orange in 2005.
A former Liberal Party member, he joined the NSW Nationals in 2008 and was elected chairperson of the Orange branch last year.
That position gives him a commanding advantage over his opponents at this Saturday’s preselection vote.
He denied his sudden elevation through the party ranks was a deliberate strategy to position himself as a successor to incumbent MP Russell Turner.
“No, that’s not the case at all,” he said.
“My family and I moved to regional Australia and are committed to that.
“I joined the Nationals because they are a voice for the area where I live. It just seemed like the natural thing to do.”
“I’ve always been interested in politics but I think the performance of the current state government was a motivating reason to get more involved.
“I obviously want to get rid of the government, but I’m not just doing it for that reason.”
Unlike preselection rivals John Miller and Fiona Rossiter, Mr Gee has not served any time in local government as a councillor or member of one of council’s community committees.
“I don’t believe that’s a disadvantage for me,” he said.
“Everyone does their community service in their own way.
“People in this town make contributions in many different ways and just because how you serve isn’t read about in the paper doesn’t mean you’re not serving.
“Every candidate is different and you can’t really make generalisations that this person hasn’t done that, therefore they would be no good in Parliament, that’s just too simplistic.”
Mr Gee said his legal background would give him an advantage in achieving results for the electorate.
“I understand legislation, I know how it works, I know how to take it apart and put it back together again and that can be a tremendous advantage in being an advocate for the region,” he said.
“And as a lawyer you have to listen to people, you’re hearing their problems all the time.
“People view the legal profession as somewhat removed from society but the reality is you get a glimpse into people’s problems and lives that a lot of other people don’t.”
Health, infrastructure, taxation, agriculture and education are the main areas of policy that have attracted Mr Gee’s interest.
Specifically, he pledged to ensure the Orange-based rescue helicopter was fitted with a winch and fully funded to fly 24 hours a day.
While the Coalition has so far refused to commit to making that happen, Mr Gee hinted it could become a key election campaign commitment.
He also wants more mining royalties redirected back to Orange and Mudgee.
“A proportion of those royalties should come back here and be spent on lasting infrastructure so when the mining is finished, we’ve actually got something to show for it,” he said.
Mr Gee enters this Saturday’s preselection vote as a favourite but predicts the outcome will be close.
“It’s a very big electorate and I think it’s going to be a very close contest, that’s my take,” he said, before declining to speculate which candidates posed the biggest threat to his preselection bid.
“I just think it’s going to be very close, the result won’t be known until the day and I don’t know how it’s going to turn out.”