Where's our state leader?
PREMIER Mike Baird has been in office more than 1000 days but has not found time to visit the Tweed, the fastest growing area in regional New South Wales.
The Premier's absence has not gone unnoticed, with local and state government representatives sharing concerns that the Tweed is being overlooked by the state's decision makers.
Tweed Shire councillor Pryce Allsop said it appeared that the area was being ignored while Opposition Leader Luke Foley said the government had taken the community for granted.
"Premier Mike Baird refuses to visit because he would be confronted with a litany of problems caused by his government's neglect of the region,” Mr Foley said.
"Unfortunately, the Nationals pretend to represent the community locally but when they get to Parliament in Sydney, they tow the line peddled to them by the Liberals.”
The issue is not new with the Tweed seemingly also low on the list of destin- ations for past premiers.
Mr Baird's predecessor Barry O'Farrell (2011-14) combined visits in 2012 and 2013 with commitments north of the border while Kristina Keneally (09-11) made a lightning trip to the Tweed in 2009.
Nathan Rees (08-09) chose not to visit while Morris Iemma (05-08) found time to visit twice but only in the lead-up to the 2007 election.
Mr Baird has had his opportunities to visit the Tweed, travelling to both Lismore and Ballina in recent months but he was unable to fit the Tweed into his schedule.
Cr Allsop said the Premier would have been well served making the trek north with first-hand knowledge of the region crucial when it comes to making decisions about crucial matters including health, infrastructure, business, policing and cross-border issues.
"He needs to get out and understand this part of NSW,” he said.
"Politicians need to be aware of what they are governing. They need to come and visit and find out what the issues are. It's a big state.”
Tweed MP Geoff Provest, a vocal critic of previous premiers for not visiting the Tweed, played down Mr Baird's absence and said he was planning a trip to the region to announce a new Memorandum of Understanding between NSW and Queensland.
"I've been told he will be here in February,” Mr Provest said.
A spokesman for Mr Baird confirmed the Premier was planning a visit.
"The Premier looks forward to visiting the Tweed as soon as a date can be found,” he said.