THE atmosphere at the official opening of Meryl Swanson’s Raymond Terrace office was welcoming and uplifting.
The diversity of those in attendance was a wonderful example of how Meryl, in her short time in office, is already making a difference to people from all walks of life.
Students, pensioners, families and supporters from both sides of the Labor/Liberal line were present, all united in welcoming Meryl officially to Raymond Terrace, opening her ‘new’ office on the old post office site of former MP Bob Baldwin’s Federal office.
Justin Ridgeway, proud Worimi man, performed a culturally moving and inclusive smoking ceremony, acknowledging the traditional owners of the land, and welcoming the dignitaries and community members.
Meryl Swanson opened the ceremony, thanking everyone for attending, and acknowledging special guests – including, but not limited to; Bill Shorten Leader of the Opposition, Kate Washington Port Stephens MP, Clayton Barr Cessnock MP, Bruce Mckenzie Mayor of Port Stephens, Nuatali Nelmes Lord Mayor of Newcastle, Councillor Geoff Dingle and Councillor Henry Meskauskas (Maitland Council).
Ms Swanson introduced Mr Shorten, who spoke to the crowd about his thoughts on current issues residents of our beautiful area are facing, spending time focusing on the plight of the residents of Williamtown, and pledging his support and unwavering commitment to see they are compensated.
“I do not understand why it has taken so long to get down to business and help these people – it has been over 13 months” Mr Shorten said
“Their land should be fit for the purpose they intended and if a Government is responsible for contaminating land, then they are responsible for fixing the problem – I will offer my support to Meryl, and the work she is already doing for these people, until this happens” he said.
Mr Shorten also spoke on other party policies, including defending Medicare, local jobs and our rising unemployment rate and commitment to properly funding schools according to need.
He told the crowd “We will use every day between now and the next election to ensure we are committed to our policies and the Australian people.”
Mr Shorten thanked Meryl Swanson for being someone he is proud to have representing the Labor party, and that he believes we are in good hands under her leadership and support.
Mr Shorten personally told News Of The Area “This is a beautiful area, I can see so many wonderful things happening here and I’m sure with Meryl as your representative, that list will only get longer.”
Mr Shorten took time before leaving to meet with residents of Williamtown – privately and away from the Media.
The attendees were also treated to an impressive musical performance by young students from St.Paul’s Primary School at Rutherford.
News Of The Area extends a heartfelt congratulations to Meryl Swanson on her official opening, and a thank you to Mr Bill Shorten for taking time from his busy schedule to visit our area.
By Rachael VAUGHAN