GREG Aplin has accused Albury mayor Kevin Mack of using the NSW budget as a platform for a shot at State Parliament as a Labor Party candidate.
The member for Albury came out swinging yesterday in a wide-ranging attack on budget critics including Cr Mack and his council colleague and former Labor rival Darren Cameron.
Mr Aplin called a rare post-budget press conference to justify his commitment to projects including the Riverina Highway and Wagga Road upgrades and Albury art gallery redevelopment.
He yesterday announced joint funding programs between the government and local schools — Albury and Murray high schools, Albury, Holbrook, Hume and Lavington public schools and the Wewak school — from the education budget.
But he denied the announcement of the projects was a direct response to this week’s criticisms from Cr Mack and Cr Cameron.
“The mayor of Albury has a job to represent council and not use his position to launch his own self-serving political attacks and personal political philosophies,” he said.
“Cr Cameron has the Chicken Little assignment from Labor’s Sydney headquarters and is in full campaign mode.
“To my critics, Darren Cameron and Kevin Mack, can you all do us a favour and sort out between you, which one is running for Labor at the 2015 NSW election.”
Click below for an edited transcript of Mr Aplin's statement.
Mr Aplin declined to comment on whether he enjoyed better working relationships with former Albury mayors including Cr Mack’s predecessor, Alice Glachan.
“I am not saying it is the worst relationship,” he said.
“There are trials in public life and people have different opinions on occasions.
“My job is not to adopt the negative, but to adopt the positive because I believe in delivering outcomes.
“Mayors come and go, but I am here to serve the people for the full term.”
Mr Aplin said Cr Mack hadn’t raised his concerns before going public.
“While we have regular meetings, he hasn’t raised these issues, therefore it is political opportunism,” Mr Aplin said.
“I know the media love to work up towards campaigns and that is clearly what is happening.”
Mr Aplin said the mayor’s post-budget comments on Wagga Road and the art gallery were simply wrong.
“The mayor really needs to understand the difference between political leadership and political opportunism rests on the relevance and accuracy of what you say,” he said.
“This is either the second deliberately misleading comment from Cr Mack or he doesn’t understand the difference between a budget line item and an application to a scheme.”
Click below to hear Mr Aplin respond to questions from the media.
Cr Mack said his budget comments were not a personal attack on Mr Aplin.
“It is a shame Greg has taken this position as I played the ball and not the man,” he said.
“I will continue to work with Greg in the best interests of people in Albury.
“To speak about my political ambitions at this time is ill-considered and speculative.”
Cr Cameron also took aim at Mr Aplin.
“It is clear Mr Aplin has been under a lot of pressure lately,” he said.
“He appears as though he has finally snapped.
“There is no basis to say Kevin Mack would run for the Labor Party.
“Kevin has never been approached by the Labor Party and won’t be approached in the foreseeable future.
“While I regard him as a friend, I believe he is a conservative and votes accordingly.”