Blacktown heads to the polls for the fourth time in 15 months this Saturday, October 14 to elect a new state representative.
Former NSW Labor leader John Robertson announced his retirement from politics on August 3, opening the door for Blacktown mayor Stephen Bali to make the move to state parliament.
The Liberal Party decided not to field a candidate, with powerbroker Jess Diaz describing the by-election as a “betrayal” and a waste of money.
The party’s absence has created the opportunity for three other candidates to increase their political prominence. Chris Winslow (Greens), Josh Green (Christian Democratic Party) and Vivek Singha (independent) are vying for the chance to rain on Labor’s parade (see below).
Registered voters in the electorate, which includes Blacktown, Woodcroft, Doonside, Marayong, Kings Park and parts of Lalor Park, Bungarribee, Marayong, Seven Hills and Quakers Hill, must cast their vote by 6pm.
There are 20 polling places around the electorate, including most schools. See a full list of locations at the end of the article.
Meet the candidates
Josh Green – Christian Democratic Party (Fred Nile Group)
Josh Green works in the hospitality industry and has previously campaigned for the Christian Democratic Party (Fred Nile Group) in the 2016 federal election. His local advocacy work includes campaigning for a lift at Rooty Hill train station, which has since been confirmed by the state government.
"I will be advocating for Christian family values to be upheld in our community, because I believe it is those values that make our country such a great place to live," Mr Green said.
"I believe some key issues for Blacktown are reducing the crime rate, reducing waiting times at the hospital, access to higher education, improvements to roads, and supporting local businesses for jobs. I ask you to let your vote count for a party that...has leadership stability, is trusted, stands for honesty, integrity, accountability, and positive change that you can believe in."
Stephen Bali – Labor
Mayor Stephen Bali is a familiar face in Blacktown. Born and raised in Doonside, he has served on Blacktown Council for 13 years and aims to remain for another two if elected to parliament. Mr Bali's current vision for Blacktown includes working with the state government to deliver a university.
Mr Bali has also joined forces with NSW Labor leader Luke Foley and promised to deliver a lift for Doonside train station if Labor is elected to power in 2019. The candidate said he Berejiklian government "has failed the people of Blacktown".
“We need more funding for Blacktown Hospital, which has the third worst emergency waiting times in the state," he said. “We need more funding for our schools and TAFE so that our children can get the best start in life, and we need to stop the Berejiklian government locking in the M4 toll for the next 43 years to ease the burden on local family budgets.”
Chris Winslow – Greens
Chris Winslow is a long-time member of the Glenwood Community Association. The Greens candidate has campaigned for fair and sustainable policies at the local, state and federal levels of government. The party's key policies include a $400 million TAFE rescue plan and better planning laws.
Social policies include a better deal for renters, upgraded social housing in Lalor Park, more safe houses for victims of domestic violence, making Blacktown the location for a new drug court and a justice reinvestment pilot program to break the cycle of addiction and crime, and tighter restrictions on firearms.
Policies for a sustainable future include restoring Breakfast Creek, shade sails for playgrounds, solar panels for state schools, childcare centres and nursing homes, double-glazing, insulation and energy audits for local homes and businesses, a lift for Doonside, and making Blacktown a hub for manufacturing pre-fabricated affordable housing.
Vivek Singha – Independent
Independent candidate Vivek Singha has previously contested the federal seat of Greenway with the Science Party. The Glenwood father is motivated by a desire to help children including his son Kush, who has a genetic condition, to get a children's ward at Blacktown Hospital.
"Blacktown is one of the largest local goverment areas and with the increasing number of younger families with high incomes and dual working parents who contribute massively to the tax base, they deserve better," Mr Singha said.
"I want this area to benefit from the amazing advances happening in science and technology everyday. I want the area I live in to have opportunities for my children in the future. I want to have all children to be ready for the jobs of tomorrow. I have over the years worked closely with technology and see the need for jobs of the future to be created here."
Where to vote
Places in bold are wheelchair accessible.
Bert Oldfield Public, Seven Hills
Blacktown Christian Reformed Church, Woodcroft
Blacktown North Public School, Blacktown
Blacktown South Public School, Blacktown
Blacktown West Public School, Blacktown
Doonside High School, Doonside
Doonside Public School, Doonsid
Evans High School, Blacktown
Kings Park Community Church, Kings Park
Lalor Park Public School, Lalor Park
Lynwood Park Public School, Blacktown
Marayong Heights Public School, Marayong
Marayong Public School, Marayong
Marayong South Public School, Blacktown
Quakers Hill Public School, Quakers Hill
Seven Hills West Public School, Seven Hills
Shelley Public School, Blacktown
St Andrews Primary School, Marayong
St Michael's Primary School, Blacktown
William Rose School